Andrei Saltykov came up with the idea for his highly functional work of wall art after living in Washington, DC, while working on a building for Richard Rogers. He saw a map of the country made from license plates and eventually put the concept to use in his new house in London, the first project of his practice Saltykov & Lacey. American geography, it turns out, was just perfect for what he had in mind. "I thought about doing Britain or Russia," he says, "but there weren’t so many sections, and the United States has lots of straight-lined divisions—great for holding books." Showing off his library wasn’t Saltykov’s only aesthetic aim, though. Within the map he fastened 600 tiny Christmas tree lights that represent the nation’s major cities.