Great ideas are the pedestal on which our species is founded. It is the base line to our existence, from the lighting of the first fire by the ug ug’s to more modern space shuttle launches from Elon Musk. Occasionally we have bad ideas too, a good example being Donald Trump’s DNA or the invention of the Mirkin but these blips aside, on the whole, we like to ‘progress’ as a species through ideas. The wheel, the combustion engine, beer etc. Today's revelation comes via a regression of sorts, a step backwards, a move to simplify and generate social interaction.
Enough babble, let’s get straight to the sweet honey of this. How often do people use maps these days? Almost everyone who can afford it has access to the internet or a ‘smartphone’ and these things come pre-loaded with ‘Google Maps’, ‘Here’ or another such map application. We all have access, via the ether tubes, to super detailed maps. But how often do you talk and share these (no I don't mean ‘share’ on the interweb) in an actual flesh and blood conversation? Now, and bear with me, imagine you had a map on the wall so that when real people actually physically gathered in one place (used to be the only way to talk to people) you could all see the same image and converse about different places to surf or you have surfed (why would you talk about anything else). I know, I can hear you saying that this has been done before but wait for it. Imagine the map was completely dedicated to surfing? I know, right!
Thomas is a passionate surfer who has been exploring surf spots around the globe for years. When he is not on his board, trying to catch the best waves, he is running his surf blog Get Wet Soon. In his hometown of Hamburg in Germany, he met Lana, a graphic designer who is into infographics and had already created a number of maps with her company Marmota Maps. Together the two developed the idea of creating two actual physical surf specific documents so that ‘at a glance’ us surfers would be able to see wave specific info at 680 spots worldwide. All the usual suspects are on the map along with some spots we had never heard of which got the office ablaze with conversation and inspired this narrative.
Where does the data for the maps come from and how do we know it’s correct? Simple, the guys at Marmota maps have teamed up with Low Pressure and taken the info from the latest edition globally acclaimed Stormrider Guides. All of the same symbols are there for swell direction, best tides and seasonal swell height and more which makes transition and understanding pretty intuative. Both the Infographic and Map feel glossy and scream attention to detail. The colours stand out and the whole ensemble says “put me on you wall”. The guys at Marmota maps use hi-res offset printing, choosing to produce everything out of Germany and making the postage a little more manageable if you are in Europe.
Both the Map and the Infographic hang on the office wall here at SBHQ and have already provoked more surfing travel related conversation than I can remember in a while (most of the time the drones are on their phones). Some of the others have also suddenly got very knowledgeable about different spots and few have booked holidays. The maps are simple, easy to understand and sit there on the wall waiting to be digested, almost teasing you.
We thought we would get a few Q’s and A’s with the guys at Marmota:
SB: Hey Lana, the Map and Infographic look great, when and how did you and Thomas have the idea?
Lana: Thanks for the kind words. Thomas and I first met in 2016. He had heard about Marmota Maps and our maps of the Ski Resorts of the Alps and he wanted to create something similar, only with surf spots around the globe. Thomas has the expertise in surfing. I contributed the design part and our previous experience with producing maps. During the development process we finally decided to create two products. The world map, which is probably the more traditional approach of visiualizing the global surf spots, and the infographic with a strong focus on design, which might be considered as the more original product. Last summer we held the first printed world maps and infographics in our hands, less than a year after first talking about the initial idea.
SB: Using the information from the Stormrider guides was genius, how did that come about?
Lana: When you try to visualize any kind of data your source is always of high importance. To ensure that you have comparable data, it is preferable to have one source instead of obtaining data from different sources which might differ in their respective standards and criteria. Low Pressure's Stormrider Guide can certainly be considered as one of, if not the biggest reference for surf spots and when the guys agreed that we could use their data we were really grateful. We also want to thank Low Pressure again. Working together was really pleasant and productive.
SB: I know you guys had a crowdfunding campaign to get started, was that a lot of work?
Lana: The whole production process of creating the Surfing Worldwide-map and -infographic was certainly intense. We also put a lot of effort into our kickstarter campaign, but we think it was definitely worth it. Crowdfunding is a great way of placing a new product on the market, both for the backers, who only have to contribute when a product is realized and for the producing side, who get a first idea about the potential of their new product.
SB: Which has been the most popular, the Map or the Infographic. Have you got any other ideas in the pipeline?
Lana: The world map is selling a bit better than the infographic, at the moment, but we cannot complain about the number of sales of the latter, either. Personally, as a graphic designer, I like the infographic slightly better, but we are all glad we realized both, the map and infographic, so our customers have the choice. This includes, of course, the choice to get both products, as you guys did. :D
As for your second question, we are always full of ideas. Marmota Maps is traditionally dedicated to mountain regions and particularly the Alps, though. So in the near future, we don't have any immediate plans for new products for you surfers, unfortunately. But sooner or later, we will make another excursion from the mountains to the beaches. We probably want to update our existing maps, but we might also create something completely new, at some point.
SB: A great thanks to Lana for the insight. Whether they meant to or not Thomas and Lana have made something that inspires actual conversation about surf and the map is up against the stiff competition of web clips, latest John John edits and enticing ‘come stay with me’ surf camp retreat videos.
So my test subjects in the office agree and I can certify that this type of regression is a good thing. It’s just a shame we can’t fix the Trump DNA thing so easily. Ooops , did I just say that out loud?
If you want to snag a brace of these conversation starters then this is the place to find out more.