Featured Designer: Erstwhile


FK chats to Dirk about his love of collecting vintage wall maps & charts with his Sydney based label, Erstwhile. Now there’s no need to look further for that much coveted map or botanical chart for your wall with Erstwhile’s amazing collection!

Tell us about your label Erstwhile and what’s the concept behind?
The idea behind Erstwhile is to reproduce vintage goods with exquisite care and accuracy to preserve and recreate the beautiful aged look of wear-and-tear from years of use. We republish exclusively licensed mid century and vintage roll maps, rare botanical and zoological wall charts.

What inspired you to start your own label?
I have been in love with old maps for a very long time, I realised there are less and less great vintage roll maps available and felt there was a void I could fill.

What do you love about working with old Wall Charts? and what keeps you creatively motivated?
It is hard to not to be fascinated about old maps and charts. We live in a world where perfection is desired and those artworks are out of a time where every mountain range, flower bloom or description text had to be drawn by hand. There is a real beauty about the manual creation of those artworks with their imperfections and quirks.

What is your creative workspace like, and what inspires you about your surroundings?
Very chaotic at the best of times, my partner Lillie and I work from our home studio. She runs her own accessories label, so there are a lot of scarves and maps around especially during ordering period it can be quite challenging but it’s a great place and we love Rushcutters Bay with the cafes and the easy access to the harbour.



Without giving away all your secrets where do you source Wall Charts for your range? and are their challenges in doing so?
There are two main avenues for sourcing our artworks. One would be to hunt out interesting maps or charts in vintage or antique stores on our travels around the globe. Usually the artworks have some clues of the publisher on them so we just follow the breadcrumbs to find the copyright owner and see if we can find an arrangement to republish the artworks. The second one would be going to libraries, rolling up our sleeves and crawling through their archives. We have great relationships with the British Library, German national library or the Library of the university of Miami. An example of a recent challenge was with the German National library. They have an archive of over 4000 wall maps but none of them are digitised nor have a pictorial reference. Some of them are so old and fragile it took quite a bit of persuasion work to convince the lady who runs the maps department to give us access to a few selected maps we were quite keen to see.

What new projects are you working on and where would you like to see Erstwhile in the future?
We will continue to grow the collection with additional artworks. There are actually some great maps and charts we are just about to launch. We would like to grow the product range and introduce a variety of products in the future where we can apply the same philosophy as to the maps. We have been working for some time now on large-scale metal marquee letters in a beautiful aged copper look and will hopefully add them to the collection later in the year.




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