A Map on Your Skin

Navigatio Collection over Antique Maps

“A map says to you, ‘Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not’.

It says, ‘I am the earth  in the palm of your hand’”

Beryl Markham


“Adventure is worthwhile in itself”

Amelia Earhart


“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost”

J.R.R. Tolkien


When wanderlust is strong, maps are a promise of a new adventure, substrate to imagine the possibilities for the coming trip. They are attractive for what they show and for what they hide. As a scholar once said, "No map can answer all the questions it raises.” Lines, colours and spaces draw a promise that grows like a tale in our imagination. How is in reality the path represented by that line? What is the smell of the air in that place? Is the breeze gentle or the light blinding? Is that place as mesmerising as its name?

Although the first maps are said to date back to 16500 BC, the oldest surviving map is a clay table representing the Babylonian concept of the world dated between 700 and 500 BC. Babylon at the center, crossed by the Euphrates River, with some neighbouring regions around and the circular ocean surrounding them all. This, as many other early maps, was not accurate and was more a statement, talisman or artistic expression than a tool to navigate.

It was a Greek-Egyptian astronomer and astrologer, Claudius Ptolemy, who in the second century AC tried for the first time to make a realistic map that could help him make exact horoscopes. As the Greeks knew the Earth was round, he invented a way to depict the globe in a flat plain, which he represented in an eight-volume atlas called Geographia. He used parallels and meridians, and used coordinates to record birthplaces for more than 10,000 people. His map, although was lost for more than 800 years, was the base for the maps used by Cristobal Columbus or Magallanes-Elcano expedition, among others.

During the Middle Ages, maps were still a way to depict ideas and religious beliefs, even storytellers; examples of these are more or less realistic; the Tabula Rogeriana by Al-Sharif al-Idrisi  is more accurate, it was made for King Roger II of Sicily to inform and expand his rule; Hereford Mappa Mundi, which shows Christianity’s world vision as a spiritual route to heaven is more centred in the story than in the geography depicted. 

Maps became a tool with the Renaissance and the age of explorers and traders. The first Modern map was created by Gerardus Mercator in 1569, when he introduced the Mercator Projection, used since then for global navigation. Although it distorted landmasses (the poles are larger and the regions at the equator smaller than they are in reality) it was the most important innovation since Ptolemy’s map.

Since then, maps have been strategic and critical, so valuable that they often fell prey to espionage or were stolen or smuggled. The 19th century and the Industrial Revolution brought accuracy and facts to almost all the maps and this has been the line for cartographic evolution until our days, when maps talk to us and are guided by satellites. 

We believe the beauty of maps reside in their purpose as well as in their aesthetics. They have a variety of uses which lead to a variety of types: general reference or the maps to help you find your destination; topographical, the maps which show the volumes in a landscape; thematic, the maps which depict information such as weather, population, or amazing things such as tracking whales to protect them; cadastral maps to know the limits of properties or communal areas; and our favourite type, nautical charts, which help seafarers navigate by including latitude and longitude scales, shoreline, lighthouses, depth curves, reefs and shoals, wrecks and all the information required for marine navigation.

Inspired by maps and what they reveal and evoke, our collection Navigatio embodies the call to adventure, the dream of a life-changing journey, the discovery of new promises, sometimes within ourselves. We chose Amelia Earhart’s map because she personifies these values. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and planned her attempt to be the first female aviator to circumnavigate the globe by studying alternative routes. One of those maps is the base for our Navigation collection. It is not the final route she selected, as she used to say “preparation, I have often said, is rightly two-thirds of any venture;” so we chose one of the maps that tell us about the process to plan an adventure, steps of discovery and growth. 

Our view on maps is similar to that of the creators of the early maps. Although accuracy is for maps their main raison d’être, their allure lies in the power they have as tools for imagination, talismans to evoque our trips (real and imagined) and artistic expression of what journeys mean for us. Wearing Navigatio collection is wearing a map on your skin, drawing the routes, the ones travelled and the ones that remain as a promise…