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Future Mapping Company
London's niche cartographer Marcus Kirby fuses data with design in a brilliant NYC map
by Hans Aschim
on 10 May 2013
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In the contemporary age of GPS and smartphones, mapmaking is quickly becoming a craft of the past. But Marcus Kirby, founder of East London's Future Mapping Company, is determined to make us think otherwise with his new representation of New York City, set for release at the end of May. "I felt that the art and craft of mapmaking had become quite formulaic," Kirby says, "I wanted to rejuvenate the craft."

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Utilizing his background in color forecasting for the fashion industry, Kirby produces cartographic works of art. The maps are equal parts reference tool and design centerpiece, with bold color palettes and boundless attention to detail. Having caught the attention of cartographers and designers alike with his cutting-edge representations of London's streets, Kirby's NYC map is the first of its kind to blend modern geographical data, classical cartographic printing techniques and a gallery-worthy aesthetic.

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Stretching across the five boroughs, Kirby's map features roads and landmarks, as well as subway stations, footpaths and detailed representations of over 1,700 public parks and spaces—even the outlines of buildings are represented.

But the map's most striking feature is its color-coded representation of the city's bicycle routes. Protected bike lanes are distinguished from shared lanes, and areas where cycling is not permitted are also represented. All of the bicycle routes include direction of travel arrows, so you can forget those traffic tickets for going against the flow. Kirby says being based in cycle-centric East London influences the way he sees cities. "Cycling is by far the best way to travel about town with freedom," Kirby says, and his NYC map is a great wall piece for urban cyclists to plan their routes.

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Kirby's maps stand out largely because of their unique production process. "It's unusual to use lithographic printing rather than digital nowadays as it's much more costly and time-consuming, but the results are really worth it," Kirby says. Lithographic printing allows for the intense level of detail while maintaining crisp clarity. The Future Mapping Company's NYC map is printed in Italy on high quality silk-coated paper measuring 51 x 40 inches, and is available in two colorways. The vivid colors and metallic tones have come to define Future Mapping Company's work, setting it apart from traditional contemporary printed maps known for their yawn-inducing palettes.

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The NYC map from Kirby reinstates the printed map as an inspiring work of art and craft by infusing modern, useful data and nice colorways with high quality production methods and materials. "It's a very accessible, practical design piece," Kirby says, "everyone can look at a map and have something to say."

The Future Mapping Company's NYC map starts at $57, available from their website and select stockists worldwide.

Images by James Thorne with additional images provided by Marcus Kirby

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