It is commonly thought that rugs or carpets created from Persia to China were significantly influenced by the landscape. As far back as the 6th century grand carpets were depictions of formal gardens.
“Ardabil”, a Safavid carpet at the V&A Museum in London
Fast forward to the eighteenth century in Rome when a planner/surveyor transposed Rome onto a map…
a close-up of which looks like this...
and the detail...
This is Giambattista’ Nolli's 1748 figure/ground map of Rome. You'll find reproductions for sale in Rome, Little Italy/NYC and on the Internet. The extremely accurate, entirely black and white map was commissioned by Clement XII partly to serve as an instrument of control over the city. Nolli's inventive map-making strategy was to show all public spaces in white and private inaccessible spaces in black. Solids vs. voids. The Nolli map, as it's known, was the result of seven years of measuring and recording by a group of surveyors.
This map is a seminal example of what is referred to as “figure-ground” or “figure-field” – “the pictorial relationship between positive and negative spaces in an art work; in this case architecture/landscape design, the spatial and hierarchical relationship between primary (usually functionally or symbolically important), spaces which may be “figured” or sculpturally elaborated to signify their importance and the less important support and service spaces which surround them.” (Theories of Urban Design by Roger Trancik)
The building coverage is denser that the exterior space, thereby giving shape to the public openings – in other words- creating space as object, redefining negative space. The open space in Rome is carved out of the building mass as a continuous flow-linking interior and exterior spaces and activities. In Nolli’s map the void is figural.
Which brings me full circle to this carpet I found at "Skitch", a home products retailer based in Milano.
or a less detailed version can be found at Target!