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DDD - A New Way To Navigate a City

Rietveld graduate Stefanija Najdovska plans to have as many Walkits as possible around Amsterdam during Dutch Design Double.  The palm-sized navigational gadget puts the analogue back in city travel allowing users to be spontaneous without getting lost.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 02-09-2010

If production goes smoothly, Macedonian designer Stefanija Najdovska appears to have a hit on her hands with the Walkit. 

This summer Najdovska graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy with the Walkit winning her accolades and attention from the school's teachers. “Choosing that school was a chance I took that turned out to be the best decision I've made so far," she says. "It is more than just the work I did there ... I gained confidence to experiment, to not be scared of making ugly things and to just explore. But most of all I learnt to fight for what I believe in. I guess you can say I really like the person I became there."

Assuming she isn’t betrayed for not having a patent, Najdovska could end up being the designer of the must-have gadget for all discerning travelers.  “I have been advised to get a patent,” she says, “but the paper work is complicated and it will end up being too expensive for me right now.”

The Walkit is a 2cm x 9cm plastic compass-like gadget.  Inside the plastic is a rudimentary grid map of Amsterdam with entertainment and cultural hubs marked in red.  A user can hold the Walkit in the palm of her hand and the map inside will turn according to the compass points. Knowing the general direction one is heading in, it becomes possible to meander and discover a city at one’s own pace. Folded into the packaging is a more detailed map with suggested places to visit.  “Using the Walkit means you know where you are in relation to where you are going so it just makes it easier to explore,” Najdovska says.

Right now Najdovska is trying to get as many prototypes made as possible in time for Dutch Design Double.  The enclosed map will be tailor-made to communicate where the main design events around Amsterdam will be held.  “This weekend via my website people can fill in their favourite places in Amsterdam,” she says.  “From there I can create the reference areas for the map so that everything comes together to build a basic orientation of the city.”

The Walkit project is the result of Najdovska thesis called “Under Construction – About The Space We Look At and the Pretty Picture We See” - an exploration of cities and how we get to know them – branding, movies, maps.  “It is impossible to disregard what you already know, but I still wanted to come up with a fresh way to discover a city,” she says.  “To make it more personal.”

Eventually Najdovska would like to build the Walkit for other cities and also have different versions available depending on a tourist’s personal interests.  Her hurdle is to find the right manufacturer who can produce the gadget cheaply.  “It should be as cheap to make as a light bulb,” she says.  

The difference between the Walkit and a lot of the newest mobile phone applications is that it is completely analogue yet intuitive.  “My grandmother can’t use an iPhone, but she can use a Walkit,” says Najdovska.  “It also leaves some of the exploring up to chance because it is more about general direction than actual street addresses.”

This weekend people can visit Najdovska’s website to help contribute to the Amsterdam Walkit project.

Walkit will be available around Amsterdam during Dutch Design Double.  It is officially a part of the Inside Design Amsterdam event.

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