Map-à-porter means wearable map, portable urbanism, or neighborhood “to go”. It is a twist on the French term that describes a ready to wear garment and makes use of two interpretations of “à -porter”: “to wear”, and also “to carry”. Our maps are wearable objects that talk about the contemporary city as seen by architects and inhabitants.
Architecture and urbanism are ubiquitous and affect everyone, yet, for many they remain unknown realms outside of the expertise of the individual. The project is born out of our desire to connect the discipline with the public through participatory installations that start a discussion.
What architects consider the “city fabric” is woven out of people as well as architecture and infrastructure. A “place” in the city is remarkable for the things that happen within its bounds and the way it accommodates people. Our objects represent a moment in time of the life of a city or the neighborhood and provide a durable record of this moment. Both the city and Map- à -porter evolve over time, each following its own laws of change.
We live in Los Angeles. Ask for your neighborhood!
Like this page or contact us to receive updates about our participatory Map-a-porter events, where users can shape their own map, communicating what is relevant to them. The city maps reflect personal experiences of participants, not only our point of view. Wearing one of our maps sends a message that is personal to the user and connects with the community.
We also love discussing cities at large, so ask for your city if you don’t live in or connect with Los Angeles.
Ready to Wear:
Hollywood– introduced in June 2014
Echo Park – introduced in May 2014
Elysian Valley (Frogtown) – introduced in December 2013
Ready to Order?
Visit our Map-a-Porter Store and choose what you like.
Hollywood was introduced for Claret-Cup’s participation in the WUHO Gallery booth at Dwell on Design in June 2014. Similarly to our previous Map-a-porter neighborhoods, the Hollywood map is designed to express historic, geographic, as well as psycho-geographic information we collected and wanted to highlight about the neighborhood, as described below.
Hollywood: Ambassador of LA identity
While the crust of movie industry memorabilia that dominates the view on the Walk of Fame – a rather small portion of a relatively small neighborhood – shouldn’t be asked to represent the entire city, Hollywood, in fact provides clues to a reading of Los Angeles that is emblematic of the city at large.
Part 1: the imaginary city and the familiar city
The never-ebbing flow of tourists to Hollywood is in fact, a pilgrimage to the physical manifestation of an imaginary place. Its architecture is tasked with living up to the expectations of the collective imaginary and providing opportunities for real encounters with this celebrated world, while at the same time reproducing the imaginary at an ever-increasing pace.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame that stretches from Gower to La Brea on Hollywood Boulevard, and from Yucca Street to Sunset Boulevard on Vine, while chaotic and cacophonic, is a true landing strip to Los Angeles.
Here the city is transparent and exhibitionistic at the street level, offering a sampling of the city’s history in the form of architectural monuments and a variety of museological manifestations of Hollywood’s bygone movie eras. Historic movie theaters, music venues, art galleries and restaurants are spaced apart at walkable distances. The very hope of a chance encounter with a celebrity in one of Hollywood’s many famous restaurants or weekend farmer’s market is faith placed in the notion that the city operates similarly to others.
But neither Hollywood, nor Los Angeles can be revealed through a stroll down one of the Country’s most visited stretches of road. Perhaps more than in any other place in the city, the curious wanderer needs to put on walking boots, aim their sunglasses above the constructed horizon and get in tune with the architectural clues of the city’s body.
Part 2: the active, alive, pulsing city
Postcards with the sole subject of a house in a bucolic setting, still prevalent in the 1950s, reveal a fascination people had with picturesque homesteads and a type of life offered outside of industrialized areas. French painter Paul de Longpré’s Hollywood mansion, art-gallery and flower gardens were already tourist attractions in 1900. This, as well as H.J. Whitley’s Hollywood Hotel, built in 1902 attests to the fact that art and culture were part of agrarian Hollywood’s DNA before the movie industry showed up in the 1910s.
While the open lands of Hollywood were a magnet to the film industry, fleeing from the Thomas Edison patents from the East, it was the industry that ultimately set up the feedback loop of broadcasting and celebrity magnetism that still makes this neighborhood pulse, tourism being part of the performance.
Participatory radio performances such as Tom Brenneman’s Breakfast in Hollywood radio show allowed restaurant goers to star in unscripted, nationally broadcast shows in Hollywood’s Radio City, while movie stars mingled at soda fountains and pharmacies at Gower Gulch and other public venues.
All in all, Hollywood acquired the reputation of a place where something might “happen” while you are visiting, and whatever happens might easily be broadcast beyond the bounds of the Hollywood Hills. Facilitating this possibility is the reality of Hollywood, memorialized in its particular architectural fabric.
Seeing Hollywood Typologies
Nowhere does Reyner Banham’s characterization of Los Angeles as a land of “untamed signscape, comical roadside architecture”ring more true than in Hollywood.
The Hollywood we know today emerged from a series of movie back-lots, sound and film stages before the first residential neighborhood, Whitley Heights in 1918 rendered the place less like a “camp”, starting it off on a continuing path of residential densification.
Outside of the Walk of Fame, the familiar gradation from a network of public spaces to private ones through porous intermediary zones is often missing. Outside the interiority of the façade-less movie studios, there is interstellar space.
In this zone, instead of monumental architectural facades, the wonderer uses other architectural clues to lead the way to a better understanding of the city. Disused radio towers are telltale landmarks of the radio and television era and beacons in navigating the existing network of movie studios and theaters.
Street names are rewarding morsels for google searches, revealing natural, geographic and personal players that shaped the city.
The ubiquitous scaffolds of current and disused neon signs beckon to past and current places of interest and are emblematic of the type of architecture upon which the imagination can build an entire city.
Echo Park, the home of Claret-Cup, is a neighborhood in Los Angeles whose turns and burns we watched for the past 15 years. Although once on the bucolic fringes of the Pueblo de Los Ángeles, possibly with sheep roaming its hills, the residential neighborhood of Echo Park grew up around the commercially failed Reservoir No. 4 (now Echo Park Lake), the exhausted Los Angeles Oil Field, a row of businesses along Sunset Boulevard and the early silent movie industry. As one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods, Echo Park’s landmarks, topography, architecture, place names, infrastructure, past and current demographic encapsulate the diversity and vibrancy characteristic of a Southern California metropolis. Highlighted natural features, streets, staircases, buildings or ephemeral locations on the map are not meant as an exhaustive list of important places in Echo Park, rather are part of a mental snapshot of the place by us as Echo Park locals. The intentionally anachronistic map elements overlay the past, present and possible future of the neighborhood at a specific point in time.
Our Echo Park map is featured on a custom-ordered Ipad carrier below.