Archie Archambault makes a living out of maps. A designer and inventor, his maps explore the different ways in which a space is organized and understood. But his maps aren’t limited to places only and include diagrams of anything from the human heart to the anatomy of an egg.
Based in New York, Archambault’s ongoing series began while living in Portland. “The whole series started with the Portland map,” he shared in an interview with the Ohh Deer blog. “Portland is a pretty geniusly designed city with very simple radial divisions. There were a few unclear things in my mind, so I made a map to help me explain the city as a whole. Just a few lines and some circles.”
According to Archambault, his original inspiration came from the book The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch, wherein Lynch describes elements that make up the experience of a city. |The aesthetic of the maps comes from my experience as a letterpress printer, using only type and lines,” he adds. “I actually have no formal graphic design training which shows when I try to do things like make a catalog or design a webpage. I would never get hired as a designer. Everything I learned is from type-setting in letterpress printing, which is a totally antiquated (went out of style in the 1950’s), and in hindsight, was probably a waste of time.”
His process includes traveling all over the world, meeting people, and exploring cities. After asking residents a lot of questions and thinking really really hard, he assembles to map, referencing current and past maps. “As much as I would love to think that I really get to ‘know’ a place after a week there, I really don’t,” admits Archambault. “It takes years to really unearth a mental map of a city. I still travel quite a bit and always learn about the design of the city. Almost every city has a museum that outlines its history and I usually go.”
Still, his maps are very pretty to look at. Something to hang in your office for inspiration, perhaps.