Starting Conversations is back, which means it’s now a series and officially a thing! We hope you’re both as excited as we are.
This time, we chewed the fat with a man who knows a thing or two about travel and “scratching” places off the list. Introducing award winning designer of the Scratch Map™ and Creative Designer at Luckies of London, Xavier Unwin.
MS: Xavier, hello! We love your scratch maps and how they encourage people to travel - where did the idea come from?
In late 2008 I went traveling for 6 months around South East Asia and Australasia. My path crossed with people from all over the globe and different walks of life. After 6 months off the beaten track and striking up conversations with any friendly face, one thing that resonated with me was how a conversation would usually lead to who's been where and seen what, with the question of 'how many countries have you visited?' inevitably being asked. Different people had different ways of keeping track and sharing their 'visited list', some had it scrawled in a journal, others typed on a spreadsheet and I even met someone who had it tattooed on their back! Despite the different methods used, it was clear that the desire to record and mark what parts of the world you've explored was a common theme among travellers.
Take it with you...Flash forward to my return to the UK and I began working as a design intern for a gift company called Luckies in August 2009. One of my first projects was a map with flag shaped stickers to mark off where you've been. Following my experience traveling and the observation of the importance to many of their 'visited list', I knew something more exciting and unique than flag stickers was needed. After weeks of exploring ideas and a chance encounter with scratch foil for another project, Inspiration struck! What if I applied a layer of scratch foil to a map? It would be the perfect way to mark where you've been and show off your 'visited list' in a personalised way - everyone's map would be unique to them! Months of testing and development passed and finally the first ever Scratch Map™ was completed, a world map featuring gold scratch foil that replicated the joy of traveling - the more you scratch (travel) the more you reveal (discover). I was able to finally test it and mark off all the places I visited and one thing struck me immediately ... I needed to book a holiday and get scratching!
MS: We know the feeling. Do you ever hear of customers going to great lengths to scratch off all of their map?
Yes, we often get tagged on our Instagram page, @luckiesoflondon, with photos of customers scratching off their map on some remote beach on a far-flung island or atop a mountain half-way across the world - it's pretty inspiring. My favourite has to be a recent shot of the Scratch Map on a picturesque beach in Essaouira, Morocco.
MS: Glorious! We're quite interested in ensuring our staff get plenty of time to travel - do you encourage yours to do the same?
Absolutely, nothing more fun than getting away from it all for a bit ... travel broadens the mind as they say ... and Luckies are a broad bunch!
MS: It does indeed. OK, final question: if you could travel with anyone, anywhere, who would you take and where would you go
Well, apart from my girlfriend, anywhere ... I would have to say boxer Miguel Cotto. I'm a big boxing fan and I've always admired his style and resilience. Would have to be somewhere warm, with some cool beers ... so I could spend the day asking him questions, maybe a beach in Puerto Rico.