Maps of all varieties have long held a fascination for global travellers, not only as adventuring and cartographic aids, but now also as resplendent artworks, transformed into statement pieces of interior decor. British luxury design brand Linley has begun creating handcrafted wall-sized maps, taking the skills of modern marquetry to a new level. Each has detailed inlays made from fine timbers in a range of styles – from the broad sweep of a Mercator-type world view, to the intricate nuances of a metropolitan skyline at night.
One of the best places to see this work is the newly unveiled Map Room at Claridge’s in London. While paying homage to the hotel’s art-deco aesthetic (red banquettes echo those found in 1920s first-class train carriages), Linley has furnished the space to meet the needs of contemporary business travellers and has fabricated a magnificent wall map of the world (second picture) as the room’s eye-catching focal point. Crafted from Macassar ebony and walnut veneers, the map is crowned by a bespoke steel clock, which sits on the Greenwich meridian in an inspired acknowledgement of British innovation and history.
While this particular map has been specially devised for Claridge’s, Linley can be commissioned to make similar site-specific world maps (from £50,000), each taking 10 to 14 weeks to complete. Inspiration might also be found in the company’s other existing designs, such as the London Skyline (first picture, £75,000 in an edition of three) – an almost photorealistic view of the capital seen from the rooftops at dusk. It took a craftsman about 800 hours to amalgamate the 20,000 individual pieces that make up this fabulous marquetry panel, which has been drawn with meticulous accuracy and measures 240cm by 350cm. Six sustainable British and European veneers portray the buildings – white sycamore, figured sycamore, walnut, bird’s-eye maple, eucalyptus and burr ash – while the River Thames is represented by grey, rippled sycamore. Skylines of other cities or countries are also possibilities for anyone looking to add the romantic spirit of adventurous travel to their interiors.