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Porsche and Lucasfilm unveil new collaborative Star Wars spaceship design

Friday, December 13, 2019

Article by Damon Lowney
Images courtesy Porsche

After six weeks of collaboration, a team of Lucasfilm and Porsche designers unveiled a new Star Wars spaceship, the Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter, which combines elements from the Porsche Taycan EV sedan and 911 sports car with traditional spaceship design language from the Star Wars cinematic universe.

“The basic shape of the cabin, which tapers towards the rear, and a highly distinctive topography from the cockpit flyline to the turbines establish visual parallels with the iconic design of the 911 and the Taycan,” says Vice President of Porsche Style Michael Mauer. Though we think it’s a stretch to say the Tri-Wing resembles anything Porsche has made in the past, it is low, wide, and looks faster than most other Star Wars starfighters — perhaps with the exception of the J-type 327 Nubian Royal Starship that served as Queen Amidala’s transportation in The Phantom Menace.

Though the shape of the ship looks more Star Wars than Porsche, there are select design elements that seem to have come straight from two Porsche cars: The center taillights from the 992-generation 911 appear in two separate locations at the rear, the 992’s grille is located behind the droid, and the Taycan’s four-point headlights are mounted up from between two laser cannons. Another interesting point made in the video is that in the course of the initial design sketches, the team found that the closer to the center the engines were mounted, the sportier the ship looked.

Inside, the pilot sits in the center of the cockpit, with two passenger seats behind and to the left and right, much like a McLaren F1. Porsche notes that the instrument cluster is located directly in front of the pilot, just like in a Porsche.

On The Designer Alliance website, a video that documents the design process from start to finish sites the X-Wing, Y-Wing, and U-Wing starfighters from previous Star Wars films as inspirational starting points for the new Tri-Wing.

“This collaboration is an amazing opportunity to merge the design aesthetics of Porsche and Star Wars. I found it to be creatively challenging and extremely inspiring,” says Doug Chiang, Vice President and Executive Creative Director for Lucasfilm.

Those who are lucky enough to attend the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in Los Angeles in December will be treated to a five-foot-long scaled model of the Tri-Wing.


Full Porsche Press Release

Design DNA of two icons united

Porsche and Lucasfilm present starship design

Stuttgart/Los Angeles. Designers from Porsche AG and Lucasfilm Ltd. have joined forces to develop a fantasy starship that brings together the design DNA of the two brands. Over a period of two months, the project team worked together at their respective design studios in Weissach and San Francisco to create initial ideas and drafts before finally coming up with a concrete concept. The fantasy starship, named Tri-Wing S-91x Pegasus Starfighter, will be presented as a detailed model measuring 1.5 metres (5 feet) in length at the December film premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in Los Angeles.

“The design of the spaceship is harmoniously integrated into the Star Wars film world while at the same time demonstrating clear analogies with the characteristic Porsche styling and proportions,” says Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche at Porsche AG. “The basic shape of the cabin, which tapers towards the rear, and a highly distinctive topography from the cockpit flyline to the turbines establish visual parallels with the iconic design of the 911 and the Taycan. The very compact layout conveys dynamism and agility, lending emphasis to the Porsche design features mentioned.”

“This collaboration is an amazing opportunity to merge the design aesthetics of Porsche and Star Wars. I found it to be creatively challenging and extremely inspiring,” says Doug Chiang, Vice President and Executive Creative Director for Lucasfilm. “It is thrilling to infuse Star Wars with Porsche styling to create an iconic new spaceship that could exist both on Earth or in the cinematic universe.”

While legal requirements impose certain restrictions on creativity in the classic design process for a series-production vehicle, this project opens up a whole new dimension of freedom. At the same time, the Style Porsche team faced fresh challenges, since creating a purely virtual design is demanding, too. On the screen, the starship is only seen in two dimensions, while classic series-production vehicles appear physically in three dimensions. In addition, starships usually only appear dynamically in the film and are only visible for a brief moment – so the design has to create an impression and be recognisable within a matter of seconds. 

A glance at the details reveals a number of features familiar from the Porsche design style. The front is reminiscent of the so-called “air curtains” (air inlets) that go together with the headlights to create a single formal entity in the Taycan. In addition to the four-point daytime running light typical of Porsche, the so-called “blasters” – long gun barrels at the front – are located at the tip. The rear grid with the louvres and integrated third brake light was inspired by the current 911 generation, and the rear section of the starship bears the brand’s hallmark light bar. Porsche design criteria have been applied to the interior, too: the instruments in the cockpit are clearly aligned with the driver's axis, while the low seating position is reminiscent of the sporty ergonomics in the Porsche 918 Spyder. All in all, the design follows a basic principle that is characteristic of the brand: all the elements on the exterior have a clear function, and purely visual features have largely been dispensed with. 

“Our collaborative project with Star Wars goes perfectly with the launch of the Taycan. The design teams have brought the differing worlds of Porsche and Star Wars together to make a very special gift for the fans of the two brands,” says Kjell Gruner, Head of Marketing at Porsche. Porsche will also be showcasing the all-new Taycan at the premiere event in Los Angeles. A special behind the scenes look at how the finished starship came to be is now available online at www.TheDesignerAlliance.com which was produced in partnership with WIRED Brand Lab.

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