State Library Victoria

Photo by Patrick Rodriguez

Map-O-Matic was a wonderful contraption that was built for the Velvet, Iron, Ashes show that exhibition that premiered at the recently opened Victoria Gallery inside State Library Victoria.

The machines allowed visitors to create and print their own personalised tour that explored the connections between two seemingly unrelated objects. 


I had the wonderful opportunity to work on this exciting project as part of my work with Sandpit. Key collaborators included the fabulous Exhibition Designer for Velvet, Iron, Ashes, Anita Gigi Budai, and Onset Arts who built our Map-O-Matic cabinets. 

My involvement spanned across:

  • concepting
  • prototyping
  • visual design
  • illustration
  • user interface
  • animation
  • testing

Photo by Patrick Rodriguez

Harnessing Carolyn Fraser’s essence

Carolyn Fraser, the curator for the exhibition had an incredible way of explaining the connections between objects that at first glance didn’t appear to feature much in common. Prioritising and encouraging discovery and exploration was the key idea going into this project.

It was decided that we would give users the opportunity to explore the connections between 49 objects. We achieved this by creating the Map-O-Matic. Visitors could pick any two objects, and the machine would spit out a personalised tour exploring those connections through six objects or less. 

Bringing the fun

Through talks with the client and Exhibition Designers, we were in a fortunate position to have the creative freedom to get a little whacky. A Rube Goldberg-esque type UI was discussed early on, and while we didn’t go that far, the playful and mechanic feeling stayed. The colours, typography, and branding for the show were able to let a little loose, and the addition of pattern was important for the icons.

The icons have purposely been illustrated to give a vague idea of what the object, but without any additional information. We wanted to give each object an equal opportunity to be selected. The possibilities with the printed map were limited by using thermal paper. To differentiate sections of the map we worked with pattern and texture. This felt consistent with the patterns used in the icons, and also created interesting definition whilst printed. 


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