The new lightsaber that appeared in the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens provoked some strong reactions last year, but how much more would people care if it transpires that Apple's Jony Ive had a hand in its creation? In an extensive profile on the superstar British designer for The New Yorker, journalist Ian Parker describes how Ive and crossed paths with Star Wars director J.J. Abrams in what might be one of the greatest nerd-crossovers of all time:
Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what 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.
"less precise, and just a little bit more spitty."
Ive apparently said later that this was "just a conversation" and that he definitely had nothing to say about the controversial crossguards. Instead, Parker reports, Ive argued that the lightsaber should look uneven. "I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty," said Ive, adding that the new weapon could be "more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous."
These words of wisdom certainly seem to have made an impact on Abrams. The lightsaber in the Force Awakens trailer crackles far more noticeably around its edges than previous renderings, and the effect is certainly "ominous" (although we can also chalk that up to the whole mysterious-hooded-figure-in-the-dark-woods thing). Still, it's interesting that Ive — a designer who has elevated the concept of smooth, rounded edges to its platonic ideal — would design something "less precise" for his ideal lightsaber. It could only happen in the movies.