Mapbox Studio is a toolkit that allows apps and websites to serve up their own custom-designed maps to users. Companies like Square, Pinterest, Foursquare, and Evernote con provide custom-skinned Mapboxes instead, changing map elements to better fit in with their brand.
But Mapbox can do far cooler stuff. It can blast you to Space Station Earth, a Mapbox that makes the entire planet look like the blinking, slate gray skin of the Star Wars Death Star.
The skin was developed for Mapbox by Eleanor Lutz, a 22-year -fashion designer in Seattle who is a self-described fan of science fiction and computer games. Though the finished skin looks a lot like Star Wars, the aesthetic of Spaceship Earth wasn’t actually informed by George Lucas’s creation. ” I crammed it full of bright lights and chrome like some of my favorite post-apocalyptic worlds: the Matrix, Battlestar Galactica, and Starcraft,” Lutz writes.
The skin contains some really clever details. I particularly love the water effect, which replaces the pastel blue seen in most maps with a sea of stars, making cities like Paris and Venice look as if they are a series of tethered space stations floating in outer space. The map skin even contains a fun little Easter egg: if you look for Mapbox’s Washington D.C. office, you’ll see a spaceship parked right outside.
Companies already use Mapbox to thematically tweak the design of maps so they better fit in with the design of their websites and apps. That’s useful, but what I like about Spaceship Earth is that it taps into another reason people look at maps besides finding their way to a destination: to transport them to another place, or in this case, another world.
You can fully explore Spaceship Earth here.