MapCarte 124/365: Crumpled City by Emanuele Pizzolorusso, 2011

MapCarte124_crumpled1Everyone needs a good map with navigation from A to B being one of the most basic of human needs. Paper maps have served this purpose since they were first printed in the mid 1700s but they do have their downsides. They can tear, they have been known to get caught in the wind, they can be cumbersome and hard to fold back into place. They can get wet and turn to mush rendering them utterly useless. The replacement technology…the digital map is all well and good but the small form factor can cause difficulties and, of course, battery life and network connection can give us problems akin to the wet soggy map. Great design is not always about the content, it’s sometimes about the form factor.

Palomar reinvented the traveler’s map in 2011 by simply printing the map on a non-tearable, waterproof material akin to tyvek. These maps can be crumpled (avoiding the need to fold) so the best way to carry the map is scrunched up in your pocket. In fact, the manufacturers make a virtue of the fact that they claim they look and function far better when battered! No more attempting to keep your paper map perfectly folded. The maps are practically indestructible (well, you can destroy them but not easily through normal use). They are ridiculously lightweight at only 21 grams.


The cartography is of a good quality. Printed in a small range of clear contrasting colours, the maps stand up in terms of function but the real benefit is their portability. They’ve won several prestigious design awards and in the age of digital mapping this is quite some achievement. Even the packaging has reinvented the way maps are sold. No longer is the map in a folded sheet or rolled up. Instead they are contained in beautifully designed boxes that in some respects mimic a range of Pantone colours – a different colour for a different city. The approach certainly encourages one to think of them as a collectible set.

Crumpled city maps overcome the drawbacks of paper maps and give map users a new way to fall in love with the physical map all over again.

Check out the range and explore a little more at Palomar’s web site here.