How Apple's Jony Ive influenced the new Star Wars lightsaber

An interview from The New Yorker about Apple's design chief gives Star Wars fans some insight into how the new version of the lightsaber was created.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Screenshot from the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Thanks to a lengthy, highly-praised New Yorker profile piece about Apple’s chief of design Jony Ive, Star Wars fans now have a little more insight into how the new lightsaber design became a reality.

When the trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released last November, it generated an Internet storm. Of all the rumors and commentary that came from the trailer, the new lightsaber made some of the biggest waves in the Star Wars universe. Even Stephen Colbert dedicated a segment of his show to the new design. The teaser left a lot to the imagination and fans were left to debate crystal sizes and shapes as being a reason for the saber’s texture, along with weighing the pro and cons of the cross guards.

But according to the New Yorker, night with friends was the main influence for the innovations.

[Director JJ] Abrams recalled as “very specific” suggestions about the design of lightsabres. Abrams told me that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would reflect those thoughts, but he wouldn’t say how. After the release of the film’s first trailer—which featured a fiery new lightsabre, with a cross guard, and a resemblance to a burning crucifix—I asked Ive about his contribution. “It was just a conversation,” he said, then explained that, although he’d said nothing about cross guards, he had made a case for unevenness: “I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty.” A redesigned weapon could be “more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous.

The new lightsaber may not run on iOS, but Apple and Mr. Ive’s imprint has been left on the series. There is little reason this should influence fandom around either enterprise, but it is an interesting tidbit for future trivia nights. The article does go on to discuss some rare insight behind-the-scenes of Apple. 

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will open in movie theaters on December 18.

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