Listings services, which allow you to order food from restaurants across a city, or to vet the quality of service at a bar or the atmosphere of a pottery class, are basically the ultimate exercise in personal convenience. If a new taqueria springs up on your block, order through Seamless. If you’ve heard conflicting reports about a certain juice bar, Yelp it. If you enjoy rating businesses to a subscription-worthy degree, sign up for Angie’s List.
But all of these services have drawbacks–Seamless orders sometimes take forever, Yelp is a chatroom for perpetually dissatisfied misanthropes and well, Angie’s List costs money. But what if you could wade through all the noise on these websites and find something really simple, like a neighborhood bar that isn’t marred by spiteful Yelp reviews, and use an app/website that’s more straightforward to locate it?
That’s the idea behind On the Grid, a project that Gowanus-based design firm Hyperakt put together last April, and it’s been growing steadily since. On the Grid uses a simple, mobile-friendly design to list (and map) all the restaurants, ice cream shops, bars and various hidden gems that pepper certain neighborhoods, and does so with in-depth descriptions and vivid photography.
“We moved from Carroll Gardens to Gowanus last October and one of the designers in the studio thought, why don’t we come up with a cool neighborhood guide for Gowanus to really kind of get to know the neighborhood,” says Deroy Peraza, Creative Director of Hyperakt.
Peraza admits that Gowanus was sort of a puzzling environment for his team at first, because it’s “the kind of place where you have to know the ins and outs to understand where the cool places are–there’s lots of them, but they’re not very visible at the street level,” he says.
So Hyperakt began to search for Gowanus’ neighborhood establishments, arranging them in an accessible and easy-to-track format with descriptions from the clientele who frequent them often, Hyperakt’s designers.
But even with a guide for their homebase complete, Peraza says the itch wasn’t really satisfied. The designers at Hyperakt thought the project “would be cool for other neighborhoods” but lacked “the capacity to cover every single neighborhood like we covered Gowanus.”
To that end, Hyperakt invited other design firms to curate listings for their own neighborhoods, and the result is an expansive list of places across Manhattan and Brooklyn (four of which have been released, twenty-three others are currently in progress), in addition to a growing number of cities across the US, Europe and Asia.
“We have [guides for] neighborhoods in the works in LA, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Charleston,” says Peraza.
Peraza says the ultimate goal behind On the Grid is to create a “Wikipedia-guide to neighborhood gems in cities across the world,” and to foster the kind of website that doesn’t get lost in the deluge of user-comments and clunky interfaces.
On the Grid will continue to release neighborhood guides across New York until September. The next one is dedicated to Prospect Lefferts Gardens and it releases this Friday, June 5th.