Maps – those two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional places – have recently made it onto several lists of "things people no longer need" thanks to the advent of smartphones and other technologies. Plenty of people out there have joined the Waze and Google Maps revolution, and use them to navigate unfamiliar places. But others have certainly retained a soft spot for foldable paper maps or old-school spiral-bound atlases. Among them are at least a few Israeli designers who appreciate the beauty of street maps and use them – and their hypnotic grids – to create practical and pretty objects.
Eli Jacobson, the founder of Walk on Map – a self-described young, urban fashion company – designed his cartographic footwear after returning to Tel Aviv several years ago from Italy, where he was working. "I thought of the characteristics of the city, which are colorful, dynamic, the sea, walking and exploring the city," he said. "And I came up with the idea of Walk on Map, flip-flops [combined] with city maps."
The flip-flops are embedded in a foam-board map, from which they need to be "punched out" to be worn; be sure not to miss the matching key chain that's also part of the package. Jacobson has already designed New York flip-flops as well, and said his company is working on additional products due out this summer.
80 shekels (about $22); visit www.walkonmap.com for purchasing information
For graphic designer Efrat Weisz, another well-known characteristic of Tel Aviv served as the muse for her first White City-inspired design: the lack of parking that locals contend with daily.
While studying industrial design, Weisz created a messenger bag using red, white and blue – the colors painted on Tel Aviv sidewalks that indicate where it is permissible or prohibited to park. She printed the city map on the inside of the bag to help those desperately looking for a parking spot get around easier. "After this first bag, I realized the texture of the city map is too pretty to keep it inside," she said.
Weisz now makes bags, pouches and wallets printed with maps of Tel Aviv and other cities around the world. She also creates custom map wallets and pouches with the streets and city of your choice. "It can be where you live, where you traveled, or your favorite place in the world," she said. Or it could be that street where you once found parking in Tel Aviv.
Prices vary; available at Weisz's online shop
While Jacobson and Weisz feature the actual Tel Aviv street map in their works, Talia Wiener has zeroed in on part of that map, transforming it into a mesmerizing grid for her jewelry collection "You Are Here."
"Each city is influenced in its own way by its street grid, at times intricately winding and dead-ended, at times perfectly aligned," said Wiener, a multidisciplinary designer who blends her background in industrial design and jewelry-making to create pieces "with minimalist urban chic."
Her collection of necklaces and brooches (which also features other global cities) focuses on a segment of each city's map – often one that includes a landmark like the Place de l'Étoile in Paris or New York's Central Park. You wouldn't necessarily know that unless you live there or visit often, and that's part of the collection's charm: What appears obvious to those familiar with the city's infrastructure looks like an abstract web of shapes to those less in the know.
Wiener has said her collection transforms the city's urban plan into an emblem, "defining the person who wears it" as a member of an urban tribe who's in on a shared secret. Don't worry, though, it's doubtful anyone will spill the beans if you join the Tel Aviv club without actually living here.
Wiener's works are sold at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv as well as design shops around Israel.
Prices vary; The "You Are Here" collection is also available at Wiener's online shop