For our honeymoon, we rented a convertible and cruised up California’s Highway 1. A day into driving, we had the top up and bought sweaters—the sunny coast was colder than we’d anticipated—our splurge hotel turned out to be a dank motel, and then a mountaintop feast with a breathtaking ocean view became a sandwich in the clouds. And all of it was spectacular. You know that feeling too: The places you go leave a mark on you, but that mark is often unseen. Meshu looks to change that. A side project by Sha Hwang (Trulia, and formerly of Stamen) and Rachel Binx (currently at Stamen), Meshu is a website that lets users plot points on a map, then order the resulting design as a pair of earrings, cufflinks, or other jewelry.
The interface really couldn’t be simpler. Type in a zip code, click to place your point. Zoom out, type in another zip code, click in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it doesn’t matter. Meshu will combine all of these places into a latticed polygon that looks perfectly artsy hanging from a chain. The jewelry itself is created through lasercutting or 3-D printing, and no matter how complex your path, it’s always priced the same.
"Right now there is no actual limit to the number of points you can use, but the material has to be a minimum thickness, so they lose legibility when there are too many points," Hwang tells Co.Design. "I really love how the meshus at various densities work visually in different ways: this vs this for example."
Of course, it’s impossible to appreciate Meshu without projecting where the idea could go. What other information could Meshu visualize? Could a meshu, for instance, depict my mood on each day of my honeymoon or the temperature of each place? Could it use 3-D geometry and color values to condense even more information into my cufflink?
"We’ve definitely thought about a lot of different directions, algorithms, structures, and forms meshu could move towards," writes Hwang. "Right now we’re just focusing on the simplest possible thing to get started. I’d love for us to do stuff in the z-axis, whether it’s using time, density, or whatever."
Whether or not wearing a map is your thing, I can imagine a future where, more and more, the things we buy and wear depict something abstract and personal about our lives. Because when we all have our memories of eating overpriced focaccia in the clouds, why would we ever wear something so cold as a monogram?