Back in December, Disney released the trailer for the next film in the Star Wars series, The Force Awakens. Directed by J.J. Abrams, the biggest impression that the trailer made on the Internet was probably in regards to a radical new lightsaber design: a sort of lightsaber claymore, with two smaller lightsabers coming off at right angles from the top of the hilt as a kind of crossguard.
Now it turns out that there’s a new revelation: the new Star Wars lightsaber was inspired by comments made to Abrams by Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, Jonathan Ive.
In his excellent profile of Ive, New Yorker writer Ian Parker relates how a conversation between Ive and Abrams inspired the crossguard lightsaber:
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. 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.”
In my own piece analyzing its design, I pointed out the seemingly shoddy workmanship of the crossguard lightsaber and how it sounded dirty, and full of static. In the words of Ive, it’s “spitty.”
So what does that “spittiness” mean? Abrams isn’t saying yet—the next Star Wars film’s release date is still almost a year away, after all—but I still stand by my own personal theory that this isn’t the weapon of a trained warrior, but of a berserker. One who–apparently inspired by Ive–ended up making his weapon himself.
Either way, you can’t say the design wasn’t considered. For more interesting details from Ive’s New Yorker profile, check out our designer’s CliffsNotes here.