Maps make us feel secure - they orient and assure us that we can always find our way through the world. Emily Fischer's "soft maps" combine the warmth and comfort of a quilt with the reassurance of a map, taking cartography to a whole new dimension. They're available from her Brooklyn-based company Haptic Lab - the word "haptic" refers to the sense of touch that includes the entire body. Seeking to counter the digitized world we have created for ourselves, Fischer sews her representations of cities to help ground the individual in the physical world of sensation.
New York-based architect and designer Emily Fischer began her exploration into quilted maps in 2002 as a part of an academic project in “tactile wayfinding”. The pieces were inspired by her mother, who had begun to lose her eyesight to glaucoma. She founded the Haptic Lab in 2009, and has since been producing soft maps in an effort to create keepsakes that inspire a feeling of connection through feeling. Like any quilt, they are meant to last generations and provide comfort and reassurance.
The company offers a broad range of maps spanning the major metropolitan areas of the globe. The hand-stitched quilts are made in collaboration with fair-trade partners in India, and they are composed of 100% superfine cotton. Each design is made in a limited run, and they are available in a variety of dimensions – from king-sized to baby blankets. All of the blankets are machine washable and rugged enough to stand up to everyday use. Haptic Lab also sells DIY kits, accepts custom orders, and is open to commission work.