Stylish Maps That Are Chatty
In today’s satellite-blanketed world of precise, GPS-determined maps, a splash of watercolor and some hand-written advice are nice, personal touches to pull out of your pocket while traveling. A la Carte Maps offers just that.
The company was founded in 2009 by a pair of Swiss entrepreneurs and self-described “flashpackers” (backpackers with some extra flair — and cash) who were tired of lugging overweight, out-of-date guidebooks around on their travels. So they started a company, contracted artists in major cities across Europe, Asia and the United States, and produced a line of hand-painted, neatly packaged city maps. And next month, they are adding another five destinations to their roster.
The A la Carte maps are a series of waterproofed street drawings, peppered with illustrations and hand-written notes, covering each destination’s best food stalls, shortcuts, public transport information and budget and midrange hotels. The idea is that you can make travel decisions on the fly while your guidebook stays tucked away in your bag or hotel room.
While hyper-designed maps aren’t new — a colorful Bangkok mapby the American designer Nancy Chandler is now in its 25th edition — A la Carte’s global scope has taken the concept to a new level. In September, they will be adding guides to Vancouver, Miami, Los Angeles, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The A la Carte maps, which are about 16.5 inches by 27.5 inches and fold down to about 4 by 8, retail on the company’s Web site for 8.90 euros (about $11.25), plus shipping.