No matter how modern, chic or technologically-forward you may be, everyone loves maps. Innate sense of navigation, likelihood of travel, and taste in worldly-looking decor have little to do with it—we just like to see space laid out, made more understandable, even as we stand still. Maybe it's a cultural value, the image of a globe carrying classy clout or educational nostalgia. Or maybe it's biological, an animal instinct to get the highest ground and the best available intel. (For more ascientific theorizing on the mind ask me how I feel about infographics. Or knolling.)
Whatever the rationalization, the behind-the-scenes look at the bespoke globes of Bellerby & Co. triggered my own love of old maps. According to founder Peter Bellerby, desk globes are still in incredibly high demand, but until his arrival on the scene, only one other company was making them (or at least by hand) as well. Bellerby started out in 2008 by trying to make a globe for his father's birthday (hey, how hard could it be?) and wound up spending over a year (and every subsequent year) working out the kinks in the incredibly labor-intensive process. His accidental move into the odd niche was apparently well worth the effort—their fans now include Martin Scorsese and the Royal Geographic Society.
The difficulties of accurate map making have been stewed over for millennia, rehashed thousands of times by influences like religion and politics and satellites and more. Even the current North = Up model isn't free of bias or blunder. And do you take your continents à la Mercator? Robinson? Wonderful Waterman Butterfly Effect? Steer clear of controversy (or don't) with a globe made by people obsessed with both cartographic accuracy and structural quality.
Even if the subtleties of coastlines aren't in question, the application of 3D reality onto paper and again onto a spherical object presents significant challenge. As he points out, any error on a globe is multiplied by pi—on a scale where a millimeter of overlap can blot out a whole country (happens to the best of us). The care they take in material precision is impressive—the plaster of Paris hemispheres themselves are cast using molds made by Formula 1 fabricators.
Bellerby's About section is thoroughly endearing, if you're the type to appreciate accuracy, cartography, self-effacing British humor, and tilting at windmills. So even if you don't have global domination goals or a grandiose desk set, give these gorgeous globes a gander.