All the World’s a Map
And all the men, women and memories merely players. Atlas & I offers a bespoke service to allow you to bring geographical memories to life
Article by Rupert Watkins
Tucked away on a small Wimbledon industrial estate is a firm that can bring geographical memories to life. Atlas & I, the brainchild of Sophie Kirkpatrick, started when she found a couple of antique maps in the draw. Whilst working in her previous job in interior decorating, Sophie designed and made various pieces of artwork for friends using old maps. Encouraged by their response, she took a table for £15 at Battersea Fair and found she took £300 as people responded to her fun and personal designs.
Sophie has long been fascinated by maps. Atlas & I allows people to select maps that have meaning to them, “it allows you to tell a story,” in her words, “the area I’m asked to frame often has great sentimental value for the client.” Unsurprisingly maps showing wedding and honeymoon locations are extremely popular, but Sophie remarks she does a lot a country sport commissions with locations of shoots, horse trials and the like being understandably good sellers. Should the customer want, various overlaying silhouettes can be added, increasingly Sophie is finding bespoke designs. There are a selection of perennials, a shooting line, a couple walking a dog or a marathon runner but Sophie sees most of her clients opting for a more personal overlay, “people want something that is special and personalised – something that no one else has.” This can range form a more obscure sporting event to the church were a couple were married.
Antique maps remain constantly popular, Sophie has a couple of different era maps for global customers but unsurprisingly it has been easiest to gain the rights to use UK and London mapping, she uses five maps of London printed in 1895, 1907, 1922 and 1960 each peeling away another layer of London’s history and growth. Though she would love to offer sailing charts to yachting fans, the licensing and safety issues surrounding the dissemination of usable charts means she is still working on this particular niche.
As well as prints, Sophie as offers a carefully curated selection of homeware and leather accessories with everything able to have that meaningful topography printed onto it. She uses untreated sheep’s skin on items such as passport holders, notebook covers and hip flasks; having at one stage used an external supplier, Atlas & I now has its own leather printer in house. Though she also now offers a variety of homeware including ceramic tiles and upholstery, her constant concern has been to find firms capable of creating what she wants to the standard her customer’s expect.
Despite obstacles along the way, “it is always hard growing a small firm – getting that balance between scalability and speed of response is a constant battle as you enlarge what you offer,” Sophie is proud of having stuck to her guns at Atlas & I to grow such a personal and intimate business. “People want memories,” as she pertinently puts it and should you be looking for a thoughtful gift or way of immortalising a special event or place in your life, Atlas & I offers some stylish ways of doing so.
Enquires: Atlas & I, 0208 9442123 / www.atlas-and-i.com/