How Apple Drew Design Inspiration from ‘Star Wars’

For months, people have jokingly referred to Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California as the “spaceship” or the “Death Star,” alluding both to its imposing size and sleek, glass-heavy design.

Those “Death Star” references are perhaps closer to the mark than those jokesters assumed. No, the building doesn’t shoot planet-destroying lasers from its center (which would be pretty cool, come to think of it, unless Tim Cook decided to become Emperor of Earth). But Apple design guru Jony Ive has confirmed that “Star Wars” inspired the company’s aesthetics in at least one notable way: its earbuds are reportedly modeled after the stormtroopers from those movies.

“Luke… these are your earbuds.”

According to The Wall Street Journal (and re-reported by tech publications like The Verge, if you don’t have a WSJ subscription), Ive told J.J. Abrams, director of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” that he designed the earbuds with “the original stormtroopers in mind.”

And yes, it’s obvious: the earbuds, like the stormtroopers, are white, sleek, and sheathed in plastic. Neither can hit a target—although earbuds at least have an excuse, lacking arms, hands, and eyes. Both are produced in massive numbers in order to fulfill the strategies of huge organizations bent on total domination.

There’s also a bit of design quid pro quo here; as The Verge helpfully pointed out, costume designer Michael Kaplan took some inspiration from Apple when designing the stormtrooper uniforms for “The Force Awakens.” As he told Vanity Fair back in 2015: “Maybe subconsciously, but with the stormtroopers it was more of a simplification, almost like, ‘What would Apple do?’”

Indeed, if Apple ever got into military contracting, the hardware would probably end up looking pretty sleek and shiny. That’s not something to consider at the moment, however; Ive seems more concerned with the next iPhone than designing a new generation of iTroopers.

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