- Photo credit: Ana Santl for Ignant
1. Bellerby’s globes are spectacularly beautiful, and it is clear why people would love them, but how did you decided to start? Why globes?
I started producing globes as a result of a long quest for a present for my fathers 80th birthday. The options available on the market were either models of low quality (plastic industrial mass production based), or very expensive and antique ones. Those latter were also very fragile, because the materials that were made of in the past had less long-lasting characteristics then the ones produced nowadays. Therefore, I decided to make one myself for the occasion, and since then I continued to make many more.
2. Since you started producing these globes, did you discover many places on earth that you did not know yet? Are the maps and the globes we have around very accurate, or the world is still a place to discover?
We have a solid knowledge and background of geography; therefore we know most of the major place on the planet by now. Yet, we often find new spellings on maps, and we do learn new details about the planet.
3. It seems that a relationships exists between globes and the desire to travel, since you started producing globes, have you developed the desire to visit any specific places on earth? If so, why those ones specifically?
Globes are indeed a medium to inspire oneself to travel. I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot so far, but a place that I always would have liked to visit is Africa. I am somehow related to David Livingstone (a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa), and his journey indeed represents a source of inspiration to me.
4. The production of globes seems to be an activity across art, artisan, science, and manufacturing. How complex was it to start? How complex was it to coordinate the right balance between all these activities?
We have good technical and scientific knowledge, so all the geographical information and data has always been under control. However, when we first started we found many challenges in balancing the manufacturing aspects. I have often been asked what the tolerance is and the only simple answer is that it has to be perfect! We look for the best possible materials and products to make sure that the quality of our globes is guaranteed!
5. What is your favorite globe, map or part of something you have produced ?
My favorite globe that we produce is The Livingstone, is is a great size, i love the base it sits on and the colouring of the map itself. Some of my favorites throughout history include the William Blaeu Globes. He was a Dutch cartographer, atlas maker and publisher who lived between the 16th-17th centuries. The globes based on his maps are beautiful objects with wooden stands and amazing illustrations. The illustrations are very imaginative and show an unknown world which was mostly made up rather than based on actual knowledge as we have today.
6. Why do you think it is significant to produce artisanal, crafty, artistic and unique globes in an age where most things are mass produced in large quantities ?
Every globe we make is unique and therefore we can distinguish and remember each one we have made. Every globe becomes the customer’s name and something special just for them. There is much more love in the production of a unique crafty object than in the large scale mass produced ones. People enjoy having hand-made unique products more these days, yet even the cheap large scale mass-produces globes facilitate our work. They allow everybody to learn more about the planet and grow interest in globes, and therefore in our work. Young people all over the world who own plastic globes often reach out to us on social media to say they hope to own one of our globes one day which really is amazing.
7. Aside from being exquisite and beautiful objects, what do you think globes bring to us today? Geographic knowledge? Dreams? Wanderlust?
As much as the Internet with all its geography-related software and application allows us to gather information on how to move from ‘A’ to ‘B’, it does not necessarily inspire. Globes, inspire people to travel, to learn about the planet, and provide geographical knowledge at the same time. We recently worked on two globes, for charity: one about the distribution of tigers on the planet, the other one about Asian elephants. They showed us how much the planet is changing (by showing the reduction of the distribution of these animal species), and really allowed us to get to understand how little considerate we are about it sometimes.
8. What is it your future vision for your globes? What would you like to achieve? How else are you going to delight us?
Our goal is to consolidate our company and develop more products in the next two or three years. Bellerby Globes is an organic company, we do not want to force pathways or put pressure into the development of strategies. We would rather let our company grow naturally. We hope to soon open a store in New York City as it seems crazy that there are currently no globe makers in all of America!
Interview by Marianna Nigra