Stephan Van Dam
President, VanDam, Inc.
Stephan Van Dam is an award-winning cartographer, graphic designer, and information architect. He is the president, principal and creative director of New York-based VanDam, Inc. The universal power of maps has been his guiding passion for the past 25 years and fuels his desire to tell stories and construct new realities through maps in all media.
In August of 2013 VanDam launched History Mapped, a new series of Presidential maps which chart the lives of Great Presidents and put their personal geographies into the context of their age.
Says Van Dam: "It's a new way to combine the signifying accomplishments and legacies of our most remarkable presidents with their geographic biographies. We've begun with guides to Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln. For example, the Jefferson map includes the routes of Lewis and Clark, the Louisiana purchase linking it with Napoleon and the Haitian Revolution along with the significant places of Jefferson's life. Each guide in the series -- produced in collaboration with the National Park Service -- includes a map of the National Mall."
Compelling graphics, pithy text and gorgeous maps make these guides excellent teaching tools for all ages, but especially middle and highschool students. And they're a traveling tour to Washington, D.C. and the Mall. In this frenetic age of ADD propelled by multiple screens, devices and social media platforms, we also witness a profound historical ignorance among Americans of all ages and widespread cartographic illiteracy despite Google Earth.
It's the physical nature of these maps which engages audiences differently. They are elegant take-away objects. Not throw-aways! They make history accessible, tangible and portable to audiences of all ages. They enliven how we learn history and promote map literacy through clear information design. They are sexy souvenirs which put a conversation into your pocket.
In the spring of 2011 Van Dam released his latest invention:
Two new immersive 4DmApps to New York City for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Using a proprietary interactive mapping architecture, 4DmApps allow users to fly through the city and become part of the map in 4D cartographic space. These rich-media "locative media" promise to revolutionize travel planning, wayfinding and local search.
In 2010, the Museum of Modern Art chose 26 of Van Dam's original origami-folding maps to global cities for the MoMA Collection.
Van Dam holds several patents in the field of paper engineering and origami map folding. His work has been honored by the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA), the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), the editors of ID magazine and has been featured on national television. His maps have been sighted in numerous feature films.
As publisher of his own series of maps and atlases Van Dam has directed and overseen the production of city maps and guides for over 85 cities around the world, including tri-lingual maps to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In 2010 he released his "2.5" series creating an elegant, sassy and opinionated map/guide approach to two and a half days in New York City which sold out in three months. Other global cities are now in the works.
Following the events of September 11th, the Regional Planning Association (RPA) and the Civic Alliance retained Stephan to create a short animated film articulating a new vision for the future of transportation in New York and its region. This film served as a fund raising tool for Congress, helped raise over $4.5 billion in federal transportation funding and was shown on CNN around the world.
In February of 2002 VanDam presented his work at the TED Conference in Monterey, CA. Other presenters included Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Gehry, David Rockwell, Christy Hefner, Deepak Chopra, Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. It was there that VanDam first proposed his ideas for immersive 4D mapping.
In July of 2002 Van Dam was asked by the New York Times to join a group of architects and planners including Richard Meier, Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenman and Charles Gwathmey to explore alternative urban proposals in the rebuilding process of Downtown Manhattan.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) asked Van Dam in the fall of 2003 to consult on ways to make MTA's The Map more understandable to wide audiences.
Van Dam also helped raise the bar for public way-finding and signage systems in Downtown Manhattan with Heritage Trails. By mapping the history of Downtown in 3D he not only designed a series of intriguing guidemaps and public display maps for 42 site markers in key locations, but also created the institutional ID for Heritage Trails. This series of maps continues to be the guiding way-finding system Downtown and has been honored by the AIGA.
To expand cultural tourism in NYC Van Dam has worked with various state and city agencies under the aegis of NYEDC to map the history of religious freedom in Flushing, Queens.
As a designer and producer, Van Dam created the COSMOS UNFOLDS, a series of EcoGuides to the universe, rainforest, desert, ocean, the Moon and Mars in 1989 for Putnam Publishers, and mapped the heavens for the Walt Disney Company (1993). He has designed atlases for AAA, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, and Hagstrom, created map identities for federal, state and local government including the Los Angeles Convention & Visitors Bureau (LACVB), NYCVB, NYEDC and produced a series of US National Park maps for the Grand Canyon National History association. The Metropolitan Museum along with other leading NYC cultural institutions asked Van Dam to create a culture guide to NYC in honor of the United Nation's 50th anniversary. This guide became the template for a decade long series of city culture-guides for Pfizer Pharmaceutical's convention business.
Van Dam also designed and produced the first ever first ever 3D magazine cover for Marvel Entertainment and oversaw production for its 1.5 million copy run. Furthermore, he created a series of urban drives for BMW to celebrate the launch of its Mini cars in the U.S. In addition, Van Dam designed, developed and produced the format and cartographic design for Let's Go Map guides for St. Martin's Press which set the standard for travel publishing and generated sales exceeded 4.5 million.
"The stories we tell in our maps are really abstractions of reality...and they are miniatures. People are fascinated by maps because as miniatures they empower the user and enhance understanding...
These powers put users in control giving them God's perspective."
-Stephan Van Dam
Map of Olympic Village, Beijing by Stephan Van Dam.
Stephan Van Dam's The World Unfolds map on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
Stephan Van Dam presents NYC 4DmApp to the staff of The New York Times.
Editorial design by Stephan VanDam for NY@tlas.
Scene from Van Dam's animated movie focusing on public transportation in Downtown Manhattan.
Stephan Van Dam presenting his 4DmApp at AIGA in New York City.
Van Dam's 4DmApp of NYC for iPhone and iPad.