Jony Ive talks Steve Jobs's vision for Apple Park, design inspiration from 'Star Wars'

article thumbnail

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

A wide-ranging conversation with Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive discusses how the ultimate execution of Apple Park hews very close to founder Steve Jobs's vision for the project, and how he inspired Star Wars director J.J. Abrams, and vice versa.

Speaking to WSJ. Magazine Ive is understatedly pleased with the development, saying that "it's nice" when asked about how he felt about the process.

"There's the same rather strange process you go through when you finish a product and you prepare to release it— it's the same set of feelings," said Ive to the publication. "That feels, I don't know, encouragingly healthy, because I would be concerned if we lost that sense of anxiety."

Ive and Jobs

Ive and Jobs shared drawings and books with each other in the early days of planning the campus, according to Jobs's widow Laurene Powell Jobs. Steve Jobs and Ive shared the same idea about product design, and that scaled up to the campus.

"You can talk about [architecture] in terms of scale and function and materials, material types," Ive told the Wall Street Journal Magazine. "I think the delineation is a much, much softer set of boundaries that mark our expertise."

Like Jobs, Ive isn't shy about criticizing Apple's competitors. Beyond product design, Ive also takes the rest of Silicon Valley to task.

"A lot of the buildings that are being built at the moment are products of software-only cultures," says Ive. "Because we understand making, we'll build [a prototype] and try it and use it, and see what works and what doesn't."

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away

Apple's AirPods, designed by Ive, have roots in "Star Wars," and the designer had his influence on the film as well. Speaking to J.J. Abrams, director of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, Ive mentioned that he would love to see a rougher lightsaber, spitting sparks. Abrams adapted the idea for the film to adapt the weapon to the wielder's personality — and Ive told Abrams later that he had the look of the original Stormtroopers from 1977 in mind when he designed Apple's earbuds.

On Feb. 22, Apple officially named the "spaceship" campus under construction. The entire facility is now called "Apple Park," with the 20-foot tall and 165 foot in diameter glass auditorium honoring one of the founders of the company and named the "Steve Jobs Theater."

An environmentally-friendly design was paramount to Jobs's vision, and Apple's related Phase 2 project adds additional workspace adjacent to the main headquarters, and includes a small data center powered by on-site the on-site solar farm, fuel cells, and other sources of renewable energy.

A new micro-grid installed on the campus is reportedly capable of delivering 17 megawatts of power from solar alone, and handling about 75 percent of the facility's power requirements. The solar installation is supplemented by Bloom Energy-provided fuel cells, similar to those installed at the North Carolina data center.