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Typographic Design for a Miura Fold Map of San Francisco

The map was inspired by a passage in Walter Benjamin’s _Arcades Project_ where he describes a 19th century map of Paris known as the Plan Taride, which unlike the flimsy paper maps of the day, was a miniature fully-bound book.


Highlights 38 spots around the city, including the best tea shop in Chinatown, a mini-park 11 stories in the air, a private library, and a bunch of amazing restaurants.


The map is printed on waterproof tear-resistant Tyvek. It’s then folded up using an origami technique that allows it to smoothly open and close in one motion, and makes it impossible to misfold.

Manufacturing Info

The map is printed by Yushin-Plus, an art printing company in Tokyo, and folded by the Miura-Ori Lab, also in Tokyo. Borgarmynd (Reykjavik) did the cartography. I (Singapore) did the typography and layout. Eric Meltzer selected the spots and wrote the copy.


Material Info

  • Constructed entirely of type 1056-D Tyvek
  • Waterproof and highly tear-resistant
  • Ships in a U-Line stayflat mailer

Rapid expansion

In order to accomodate quick consultation without fumbling or squinting, the map expands to full size at the pull of a flap. When folded, it’s small enough to fit in the credit-card pocket of most wallets. The folding method is known as the Miura fold (ミウラ折り? Miura-ori) and was invented by Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura, to fold large solar panel arrays for space satellites in the Japanese space program which can then be unpacked in one motion by pulling on its opposite ends, and likewise folded by pushing the two ends together. This property reduces the number of motors required to unfold this shape, reducing weight and complexity.

Stringent selection

The map spots are chosen in order to provide a set of starting points to explore the city. Trends are ignored in order to provide a list of truly wonderful and underappreciated spots.

Close showing Chinatown and the Transamerica Pyramid among other sights.

Careful craftsmanship

The map illustration was hand drawn at large scale, and then scaled down 20× in order to create a densely detailed image. Our art-house printer in Tokyo then uses a high quality lithographic process to print each map.