Ask The Expert: Armin Sinwell talks Columbus Globes
How did Columbus begin?
It all started in Berlin in 1902 when Peter Oestergaard created his first globe. He saw the potential and incorporated his business in January 1908. It’s been a success ever since then. So for 110 years Columbus globes have “globulated” classrooms, libraries, studies, living rooms all over the world. The standard learning and reference tool has been complemented by high-class, luxurious accessories which indicate a lifestyle of culture and erudition.
How did you get involved?
Kosmos Verlag, a big family-run publishing group in Germany decided to participate in Columbus in 2017. I am representing Kosmos within in the Columbus board. Working with my Co-CEO Torsten Oestergaard who represents the founder family is a personally enriching and professionally very rewarding situation. I am learning by the minute; not counting the insight that the world is round – which I had found out about before.
What is that sets the Columbus globes apart from other globe manufacturers?
It is clearly the emphasis on quality and distinction. 90% of our production is hand-made, and 100% is manufactured in Germany. Our most luxurious globes are made of mouth-blown glass, the globe segments are mounted by hand – as are the Swarovski zirconia on our lavish Swarovski line. Another unique feature of Columbus is the constant striving for perfection. We never stop looking for improvement and innovation. Our claim is to create the “world’s finest globes” – this is not a goal to be reached and be content. It is a constant challenge.
How important do you think it is for a library to have high-quality reference globes?
A library is a place of culture, contemplation, and knowledge. A very important part of our knowledge of the world is to know what it looks like. Physically, politically. Few people know that any 2D representation of the world is rather a distortion. Look at Greenland on a “flat” map: It looks almost as big as Africa. How come? The projection (i.e. converting the 3D sphere to a 2D plane) leads to inaccuracies the further you move away from the equator. Only on a globe you can see the true relation: Greenland is A LOT smaller than Africa!
There is a huge range of globes that Columbus produces, which one is your favorite?
O boy, I love them all. Whenever I see a newly manufactured globe, freshly tarnished, handled with utter care, I think: this is the most beautiful globe I have ever seen. I am deeply infatuated with globes made of crystal glass (mouth-blown): to me the epitome of craftsmanship.
Where has been the best place that Columbus globe has been sent to or made for?
It is always the place where it conjures up a smile on the face of the onlooker. Columbus globes can be found on yachts and cruising ships, in presidents’ offices and in the houses of many VIPs of politics, sports and show biz. Sometimes we are called the “Rolls Royce” of the globes. Not a bad benchmark, but more important is: That any globe we deliver becomes a favourite piece to the owner, no matter how old, rich or distinguished.
What is next for Columbus?
We are working on various innovations. The most exciting one is a speech recognition globe which we are just finalizing: You just talk to it and it shows you the places you want to see, and, if you choose so, additional information regarding “lands and people”. It even plays the national anthem. On traditional globes, if you want to find a place you have to know where it is. Unlike an atlas a globe does not have an index. Here the globe shows you around without effort. A marvelous invention!
When you travel do you enjoy finding books in your hotel?
I sure do! I am an avid reader and I think that a good hotel definitely has to have a well-sorted library. When a hotel management showcases their spa (for the body) or their business center (for the money) they should make it a point of honor to have something for the brain, too: A library. Cultivated people love to read, and readers are cultivated people. If you want to attract these people, that’s how you get them. And they keep coming back to hotels were they found nourishment for their brains and their souls.
Please could you recommend your 5 favourite books?
4 3 2 1
By Paul Auster
Stop reading this blog (you can resume it later) and get Paul Auster’s 4 3 2 1, an incredible story of a life in the 20th century told in four parallel variations.
Look Homeward, Angel
By Thomas Wolfe
More classic, and also worked around a fascinating biography is Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel– it is wonderfully sad without making you feel depressed.
The Lyrics 1961 – 2012
By Bob Dylan
For shorter morsels which are substantial nonetheless I turn to Bob Dylan’s The Lyrics 1961-2012.
The Story of Art
By E. H. Gombrich
In non-fiction, my all-time favourite book is still Ernest Gombrich’s The Story of Art: What a wonderful, insightful, and fun-to-read treatment of an eternal topic.