MapCarte 164/365: The Beautiful Game by Kenneth Field, 2010


One from me…

There’s a world of difference between designing maps for inclusion in small format publications which are designed to be viewed at about 18 inches and a large format poster designed to catch the attention of someone as they pass by, perhaps fleetingly, in a gallery. This map was designed for the latter, the original being A0 size.

The poster displays the global distribution of national professional football teams. The use of a Dorling cartogram technique scales the symbols to the number of professional teams in that country. The cartogram neither maintains topology, shape of feature centroids yet we are still able to pick out that it’s a world map since most adjacent countries touch each other. The map could have been presented using a choropleth or some other standard mapping technique but when you want maximum visual impact you need to design something far more eye-catching.

The entire symbology  of the map is football related from the football sphere symbols that also contain team logos to the background of a football stadium. From a distance the football symbols seem to drop or dance about inside the stadium cauldron. National football association badges locate countries and symbols are grouped into FIFA confederations. The poster is designed to offer more than simple visuals though; it provides readers with a way to explore the structure of the game as well as the etymology of the term ‘football’ itself and how it varies globally with different vernaculars.

It deliberately uses saturated, vibrant colours that would not necessarily work for other presentations and in total it’s quite a visual assault on the eyes. Subtle it is not, but maps do not have to be subtle to be effective depending on the viewing environment. It won a few awards which is why it gets a mention in MapCarte. I even managed to add a little version of me sat in the stands just for fun.

Such one-off maps can have longeivity in a design sense too. I used a similar visual approach to a more recent map…the full history of the FIFA World Cup, published to coincide with the 2014 Brazil World Cup. This map used more conventional proportional symbols though still retained the football theme by adding a football design to the proportional symbols themselves along with a touch of shadow to provide some depth. An abstract basemap provides a simple backdrop:


You can view the web map here or download a copy of the full size print map here.