With the rise of the GPS, the old-fashioned map has been reduced to an app. Yet nothing is as attractive to a die-hard traveler (other than a boarding pass) as the old blue-and-green classroom atlas or a nautical chart.
Maps represent a respite from routine, the romance of the journey and the road yet traveled. The inherent design element also evokes a built-in emotional response that retailers and manufacturers can't resist. They have translated the natural aesthetic of oceans and continents crisscrossed by straight and squiggly lines into fashionable motifs that cover everything from bed sheets to wallpaper to clothing, shoes and furniture. Here are a few we have uncovered to help you chart a stylish course:
The furniture manufacturer Theodore Alexander has two side tables that will get your Magellan going, and a Thomas Howard table has a map painted on the underside of the top that is reflected in the mirrored base below. It is an old-world-meets-new-world statement piece.
"We were inspired by the great map makers and travelers of the past," said Russell Towner, president of Theodore Alexander USA. "Stylistically fascinating, these statement pieces are evocative of the romance of travel."
Signals.com, an Ohio-based company, has a bangle, a poncho and two types of world map scarves for draping yourself in cartographic splendor. Another online option is MyDrobe, which is currently featuring a swimsuit with the map of the world by Filles a Papa. Go to www.signals.com and www.mydrobe.com for more fun fashion finds.
Hermes, the French luxury purveyor, has created map scarves for years, but it just issued Le Voyage de Pytheas for $435. Not For Navigation, based in Essex, Mass., makes pillows, beach bags, totes and accessories with customized maps and nautical charts. The Traverse canvas bag sells for $115.
"All our products are custom-designed per area. We use nautical charts and topographic maps, so we can do any town, lake, river, mountain, city, actual address … It's endless!" said Heather Jernegan, owner of Not For Navigation. Go to www.notfornavigation.com to see more.
Another Massachusetts-based company that has mapped out its product line is Mad Bay Designs, offering pillows, purses, totes and more at www.madbaydesigns.com.
Heys International, a Canadian firm whose wares are available at www.heys.ca, has made the most obvious connection between maps and travel by putting it on hard-sided luggage. Each of the three pieces in its Journey spinner set has a different section of the planet emblazoned on it. For more light on the subject, there is Shiner International's hanging Globe lamps, which come in an antique look or the standard schoolroom version in three sizes.
Oomph, known for its lacquers, has the Fenwick Chart Table in 16 colors. It retails for $2,075 and can be made with any nautical chart on top. The new Chappy Wrap blanket in a 100 percent cotton jacquard weave for $120. Go to www.chappywrap.com to order.
If time is of the essence, head to Urban Outfitters for your Around the World leather watch for $34. The face shows India and surrounding countries. It's available at www.urbanoutfitters.com.