Venetikidis says that “As humans we are pattern animals, we love patterns.”

Graphic designer, Aris Venetikidis, observed that when we visualise an area such as a city centre, we do not see an accurate reflection of the geographical realities. We simplify it, make the streets straight and create an overall pattern. He says, “Before we ever get to see a map, we get to see a place that we are visiting or a city that we live in…and our mind tends to simplify things, we tend to look for patterns that help us recognise things. As humans we are pattern animals, we love patterns.”

Understanding our mind and maps

Eight years ago he moved from Germany to Dublin to study design and was utterly confused by the complex and chock-a-block transport network in the city centre, even more confusingly represented by existing maps.

Understanding how our mind makes maps, Venetikidis set about creating a coherent schematic that didn’t necessarily adhere to geographical lines but would make it clearer for tourists to navigate the city.

If anybody was ever to attempt graphic design around maps, it is impossible not to recognise Harry Beck’s invention

One of the main inspirations behind making a map of Dublin was Harry Beck’s world famous London tube map. Venetikidis says, “If anybody was ever to attempt graphic design around maps, it is impossible not to recognise Harry Beck’s invention. It was a milestone event in mapping visual information so of course it was a huge inspiration. Of the two maps that I did come up with, one was very closely related to Harry Beck’s map of the London underground. The second one was going a step beyond that because Dublin doesn’t have a subway, it only has buses and a couple of trams but it didn’t stop me from taking the simplification that Harry Beck used in his underground map and applying it to above ground transport.”

His first map of all the rapid transport networks in the greater Dublin area.

The first map he made was of all the rapid transport networks in the greater Dublin area. He then created a diagrammatic map which included local and rapid transport networks in the city centre. Along the way, he realised how complicated even a Harry Beck- style schematic map looked so he decided to make one that didn’t represent the transport system as it is but as it should be if it was laid out in the most logical, efficient way.

Planning is key to good design

Venetikidis says, “When I tried to map the network as it is right now I realised all I could really do was visualise how complicated and overly cluttered the system really is. I don’t think good graphic design is not just packaging something and making it understandable. Good graphic design or good design thinking should start at planning a network, not just its maps.”

His diagrammatic map which included local and rapid transport networks in the city centre of Dublin.

The current Dublin transport system was built on the premise that every time a new outskirt was built a new bus route was added too, running from that outskirt all the way into the city centre. This has resulted in a spaghetti junction of bus routes all converging on Dublin’s high street. Venetikidis has made a map where the local bus routes in the outskirts connect up to the rapid transport systems, which in turn go into the city centre – a far more efficient way of commuting in Dublin.

Good graphic design is not just packaging something and making it understandable

With his inner city map, he has widened and straightened the main transport routes whilst keeping the rest of the streets not used by buses geographically representative. So in a sense he has laid a Harry Beck schematic over a traditional geographical map and blended them together.

When Venetikidis completed the map project for his Masters, there was a very positive reaction from the public and the Irish Times ran a piece on his work. He has now moved to Vienna where the transport system is far more efficient and he is working on a map that doesn’t require the network to change but will still guide tourists and commuters around the city more easily and efficiently than existing maps.


Check out Venetikidis’s TED talk below on making sense of maps:

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