“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”– Marcel Proust
For some reason we instinctively trust maps. They provide a sense of familiarity to the unknown and are seemingly trustworthy and reassuring that we are taking the right path…or that we ultimately know where we are heading. Today more than ever, we rely on maps to help us plan and navigate our daily lives. The GPS- enabled smartphone has become an essential part of modern existence, supporting a universal fast paced world where time is a valued commodity. Consider how chaotic and haphazard a life without direction would be, how much time would be wasted. Maps help navigate us into making better use of those precious hours and minutes.
Maps go way back. We’ve seen beautifully penned and coloured old maps where the countries are odd shapes and sizes— perhaps with no America or New Zealand because they hadn’t yet been discovered. There has always been a need to map out the world. To help us understand where we are in relation to other people or places, physically and culturally. Our sense of home is based on our mental map of the world as we know it, with us at the centre. Today, despite all the modern technology, the emotional need to know where we are and chart our everyday rituals and routine remains as meaningful as it did for those early explorers.
Part of the charm of the maps of old was their sense of history and adventure. Somehow, maps allow you to venture farther than you ever thought possible. The adventure of being original and defining our own style and sense of self needs supportive direction. In this way, mapping still revolves around the joy of discovery, about inviting your dreams into reality.
A map is your compass—in both life and design. It allows you to make note of a point of reference for your ideas and then expand them into other areas. It offers you the freedom to self-navigate, knowing that you can lose yourself in exploration, while being safe in the knowledge that you are tethered and able to find your way back to home base at any time. The same is true when you embark on your journey of discovering your personal style, and esthetic sensabilities.
Maps also remind you that there is more than one route to any destination. We’ve all heard the expression: “life is more about the journey than the destination” — and with design, that journey is one that should force you to explore new resources, or move into new arenas in an organic way. The more layered and complex the path becomes, the more options will inevitably present themselves. So trusting one’s intuition is essential when presented with a fork in the road.
“Utilizing a mapping process allows you to broaden your view and gain the confidence you need to tap into your creativity with confidence.”
At its simplest level, mapping allows us to take a bird’s eye view of any project. A “you are here” starting point that offers you an overview perspective to see how a plethora of elements can be woven together to form a cohesive picture. Sometimes, I like to think of myself as a circus performer, spinning an array of plates around and around atop perilously long poles. These performers must be hyper aware of every individual plate’s speed and momentum in order to prevent everything from literally crashing to the ground. That’s how it can feel when monitoring the numerous overlapping elements of any design project, the mapping technique offers a way of staying on top of every situation and keeping those plates spinning.
Maps give us an all-important overview that helps make a project seem more manageable. Design projects often have a way of making you feel overwhelmed before you even begin, as you start to compile an infinite “to do” list. Your map also allows you to “zoom in and out” on the project as a whole. Zooming in allows us to hone in on the finer details, while zooming out allows us to examine the bigger picture at any time. It is always important to keep looking at both to foresee what lies ahead — truly one of the great benefits of mapping.
I also work specifically on colour maps as the beginning stage of colour selecting. Colour is the starting point for me on all my projects, the discovery of the general palette and its complexities. It is a more inspiring and practical way to select and group the colors and chart their relationships allowing all the spaces to connect and flow.
“Mapping enables me to develop a design experience; it provides an overview of the spaces so that I can see how the colour threads weave between them in a mindful, orchestrated manner.”
This mapping method is a way of brainstorming and recording important details and information in a colourful and creative way. A freestyle storyboard, that is the whole picture of every thought, every idea, brainwave mental image and realization I have. Think of the all-too-common experience of having had a wonderful dream that you are certain you’ll remember — only to have every last remnant of that dream evaporate and leave you wondering how you could have lost such a memorable thought. Mapping enables you to capture those ideas in the same way you might record dreams in a journal — it keeps a record of those fleeting but often intuitive notions before they disappear into the ether.
“Maps help to show you where you are, but a home is about developing who you are.”
I am a highly visual person, (compensates for my dyslexia!) so for me, connecting a subject with an image helps lock that idea in my memory. Sometimes on those inevitable complicated days, when it feels like nothing is working, having a map allows me to switch gears and move into another area, yet know that I am still heading in the right direction.
Mapping is a visual tool that you can expand continuously without upsetting any order of sequence that contains all the information I want in a personal, functional and artistic visual image. It’s a way to help us chart uniquely personal home stories and create decor and colour schemes that resonate with our home’s ultimate purpose and lifestyle choices.