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The influence of Star Wars on Apple’s classic design, and vice versa

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Designed by Empire on Coruscant.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Later this month, crowds of excited fans will stand in lines to see one of the most-hyped and likely profitable things of the year. For once, that’s not an Apple product—it’s the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. But the Californian tech giant and space film franchise do have something in common: design.

Jony Ive—Apple’s famed product designer—has long been influenced by Star Wars, and in turn, the new film seems to have taken some aesthetic inspiration from Apple.

Earlier this year in an interview with the New Yorker, Ive revealed that he had spoken with The Force Awakens’ director J.J. Abrams about how lightsabers should look in the film. Kylo Ren—a new dark presence in Star Wars universe—has a jagged lightsaber with a (potentially dangerous) crossguard hilt.

“I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty,” Ive told the New Yorker.

The Force Awakens‘ costume designer, Michael Kaplan, also told Vanity Fair that Apple was one of his influences for the look of the new film. When asked how the design of the Star Wars universe had evolved, Kaplan said:

Maybe subconsciously, but with the stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, “What would Apple do?” J.J. wanted them to look like stormtroopers at a glance but also be different enough to kind of wow people and get them excited about the new design.

YouTube/Star Wars
Kylo Ren’s lightsaber.

In a 2013 interview with Charlie Rose, Ive named Star Wars as a major influence in his life and referenced the imposing look of one of the franchise’s most common characters—the Empire’s Stormtroopers: “This idea of having the baddies in bright white shiny armor was fantastic.”

Ive never gave a specific example of how the films inspired his work, but it’s worth noting that the iPod, among other Apple products designed by Ive, originally only came in white.

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