Map Nerds, Rejoice: Here’s the Dymaxion as a Foldable Globe
When Buckminster Fuller released his Dymaxion map in 1954, the disjointed atlas was unusual, to say the least. He and architect Shoji Sadao created a projection showing all seven continents arranged in a nearly contiguous land mass. They projected this archipelago onto an icosahedron consisting of 20 equilateral triangles that could be rearranged to visualize geospatial information like air and sea routes.
Fuller considered his map the least distorted of all 2-D projections, but its peculiar geometry made it just as accurate as a 3-D object. Designers remain fascinated with Fuller’s projection, and many have toyed with how to display it most compellingly.
Brendan Ravenhill reimagines the Dymaxion Map as a magnetic globe. Like Fuller’s original map, Ravenhill’s globe can exist in two or three dimensions. Laid flat, it’s a series of 20 triangles that show Fuller’s projection as a single landmass. The back of each triangle features a magnet so you can fold the map into an angular globe. “Really it’s a toy, but a toy that has a lot of resonance and importance,” Ravenhill says.
Fuller made his map endlessly reconfigurable. And while Ravenhill’s design nods to that idea with its partitioned triangles, there’s really only one way to put the puzzle together correctly. “You know you’re doing it wrong if there’s a magnet where Antarctica is supposed to be,” he says.