GStraightforward typographies, filigree drawings and harmonious color contrasts – this is what distinguishes the city maps from Blue Crow Media. But the topics and metropolises about which the small map publisher publishes are unconventional. Only one thing is certain: it is always about architecture and design – whether in Tbilisi, London, New York, Sydney, Pyongyang or Berlin. The independent publisher, which is based in the East End of London, was founded by designer Derek Lamberton in 2009. It was initially an experiment to see whether an alternative card design and special architectural themes would appeal to the public, he says. The first map to come out of print, the Brutalist London Map, featuring the brutalist icons of the British capital, was a success and sold 100,000 copies around the world.
The design of the card is minimalist. A map of London is indicated in three shades of gray, over which the structures of 50 buildings are applied in bright red – the Barbican Center, the Royal National Theater, but also lesser-known constructions such as the Trellick Tower or the Casson Pavilion. The cover shows residential towers in Croydon, 30 stories high, monstrous, brutal.
The most absurd trees in the British capital
For each of the cards, Blue Crow Media works with architectural historians, sociologists and writers. You write the texts on the back. The maps are therefore small works of art in themselves – including the subway plans that Blue Crow Media painstakingly reproduces. These are now available for the New York City Subway, the London Tube and the Paris Métro. The publisher also repeatedly issues series – such as “Brutalist Montreal” or “Art Deco New York”.
The DIN-A 2-format cards are always two-sided. While carefully mapped plans show the architectural features of the cities on the front, the back has high-quality photos and texts about the history of architecture. Card design has become more and more experimental over the years. In early 2021, a glowing dark green card titled “Great Trees of London” was published, designed by Paul Wood and gathers the most absurd trees in the British capital, including the 2000-year-old Totteridge-Yew trees in north London, the gnarled Royal Oak Trees in Richmond Park and the trees at Windrush Square Memorial in Brixton.
Handy architectural guides for the living room wall
The current new release, on the other hand, is dedicated to the modernist architectural treasures of Prague. The “Modern Prague Map” contains the famous buildings of Bohemian Cubism such as the “House of the Black Mother of God”. Or the filigree constructions of Czech brutalism, such as the pitch-black theater building “Nová scéna” with thin concrete slabs from 1983 and the anchor-shaped Kotva department store on Náměstí Republiky. In addition, the “Modern Venice Map” was published, which traces the modern architecture of Venice from 1930 onwards. It not only lists the monumental pavilions of the Biennale, but also the bridge structures from the post-war period that connect the city island with the mainland.
With the cards, Blue Crow Media has developed handy architecture guides that are ideal companions for city trips, but also fit as posters in any living room. But the activities go beyond the printed paper. The independent publisher has 20,000 followers on Instagram. Architectural photographs are posted there. Blue Crow Media also organizes discussions and exhibitions.