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City maps go high design
In the age of GPS, paper maps might seem about as useful as a Walkman. But regardless of their relevance, they can be a beautiful and personal way to decorate a home or office, thanks to a new crop of innovative cartographers.
We love artist Lena Corwin, whose whimsical illustrated maps imbue her favorite cities with bright colors and tiny, landmark drawings indicative of each location (think Dallas, Hong Kong and Athens). Bound together in a set of 40 ($35), the adorable creations can easily be separated for individual framing, or kept together as a coffee-table tome.
Karen O'Leary takes a more abstract approach with her intricate "mapcuts," city grids that are hand-cut with an X-Acto knife from textured, watercolor paper. Frame your home town--say Philadelphia ($600) or Chicago ($500)--against a dark canvas or patterned background for striking contrast.
And, for the literal types, we suggest these typographic maps ($30 each), which are like nothing we've ever seen: Every city-feature (streets, parks, neighborhoods, etc.) is created from hand-placed (and apropos) text, which takes the artists hundreds of hours to complete. Look for New York, D.C., San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, with more cities in the works.