Crumpled Maps and Backward Globes

Rebecca Maxwell


Palomar, an Italian optics company, is an example of the fact that maps and globes can still be used through innovation technologies, despite the popularity of digital mapping systems and GPS.

The company has been a leader in traditional optics since 1956 and is based in Florence, Italy. The company boasts that it develops creative designs and innovative ideas for new applications of old-fashioned devices used to view the world. P

alomar not only designs monocles and telescopes but has also taken a creative approach to maps and globes, those representations of places on the Earth.

Goal of Palomar’s Designs

Palomar prides itself on being able to reinvent objects for today’s travelers, and one way that they do this is through new designs of maps and globes. Palomar takes inventions of the past and then updates them for modern society and innovative uses.

For example, one of Palomar’s designs is a reinvention of Galileo’s telescope that replicates the device’s initial form. However, the object also incorporates modern optics in order to observe the major planets in the solar system and the moon.

Palomar has also been a pioneer of ZoomArt, an optical device with high-quality lenses that looks like a child’s toy. It is meant to be carried around while traveling to see different sites up close and discover the hidden details of a place.

Palomar’s Geographic Designs

Besides optics, Palomar has also become a groundbreaking company in designs of maps and globes, objects that have traditionally been used to give us a sense of places in relation to others.

Their designs include crumpled city maps, Odnom globes, and pin city/pin world maps.

Crumpled City Maps

One of the biggest frustrations with paper maps is trying to fold them back again along the original creases. Not only that but the creases can get in the way of reading the map, and it is a hassle to fold and unfold a paper map time and again.

In response, Palomar has created maps of several cities around the world that can be crumpled up without having to fold it.

A crumbled street map of the city of London, England.

You can scrunch up the map until it fits in the palm of your hand, and it also easily fits into a small bag or pouch for carrying around. The design was invented by Emanuele Pizzolorusso, and the product won a European Consumer Choice award in 2012.

The maps are printed on durable materials made up of a high-density, fibrous polyethylene. The maps are virtually indestructible, being waterproof and rip-proof.

The maps are easy to use since all you do is then crumble them again when it is not being used.

The maps are designed with easy-to-read graphics and a list of all the monuments, art galleries, historical places, parks, and buildings in a city. The maps also include a list of ten important sites not to be missed.

So far, crumpled maps are available for cities such as Sydney, Tokyo, Berlin, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Madrid, Toronto, San Francisco, and several others. Palomar also makes crumpled maps for kids that are easy to use and geared towards younger ages.

Odnom Globes

The word Odnom is mondo spelled backwards, the word in Italian for world.

These devices are world globes but their design is a new take on geographic conventions, literally turning them on their heads. The globe’s purpose is to highlight the hidden areas of the globe and dispel the domination of the northern hemisphere over the southern hemisphere.

A picture of two globes, a larger globe in dark blue, and a smaller globe in magenta.

Odnom globes are apparently trying to correct the relative obscurity of the other half of the world. In order to do this, the globes incorporate an inclined mirror at the base to reflect the southern hemisphere, and this supposedly makes it easier to see places south of the Equator.

Also, the geographic names in the southern half of the world are printed backwards so that the reflections are legible.

Pin City/Pin World Maps

It is an inescapable fact that one of the biggest draws of traditional paper maps is the ability to stick pins in them.

People have traditionally displayed maps in their homes or offices and then stuck pins in them according to what places they have visited and where they have traveled. Some people even invite others to stick pins on prominent maps to see where others have gone or lived, and the activity can be a great way to get to know a group of people or draw fun conversations at parties.

This is the basic premise behind the pin maps of cities or the world from Palomar.

Each map comes with a set of pins and the felt maps can be used to create all kinds of designs for it. You can mark your favorite places on the maps with the pins or use the pins to hold souvenirs like ticket stubs, notes, or photos and create a travel diary or story.

The world maps are not incredibly detailed; they consisted mainly of a dark outline with the names of major cities. The city maps are more detailed with the outline of streets and notable features. It is up to you to make the map into a work of art. The pin city maps include New York, London, Berlin, and Paris.


Palomar is a traditional optics company in Italy but it has also branched out to include innovate designs in maps and globes.

The purpose of the company is to take conventional ways of looking at the world and then change them to that they incorporate new or innovative functions. Palomar’s crumpled maps, Odnom globes, and pin city/world maps are examples of how maps can continually change to incorporate new uses and still be fascinating.


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About the author
Rebecca Maxwell
Rebecca Maxwell is a freelance writer who loves to write about a variety of subjects. She holds a B.A. in History from Boise State University. Rebecca has also been a contributing writer on

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1 thought on “Crumpled Maps and Backward Globes”

  1. You may also want to check out SplashMaps. Beautiful true fabric maps. We are fully open data and open source. Our stunning cartography is particularly suited to the outdoors enthusiast. Plus we can makes maps of anywhere where there is good data available. So far we are offering Great Britain, but will soon have US national parks. However just ask us for any bespoke coverage.

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