Redesigning Star Wars is coming to San Francisco

For Star Wars Day, I’m pleased to announce…RSW_graphic

Star Wars was originally released in 1977, long before audiences had the daily deep engagement with computers that we have today, and long before interaction design was its own profession. What was mind-blowing technology back then can seem quaint today. How would you, as a professional designer, do it over again?

18 September 2015, San Francisco

In this day-long workshop that is part of the Sum of the Parts speakers series, you’ll sharpen your pair design skills on reviewing and redesigning some of the interfaces found in this well-known and beloved film, with other designers from in and around the bay area.

Attendees will practice

  • Working in pairs
  • Heuristic analysis of speculative interfaces
  • Quickly designing for unspecified tech in the “long horizon”
  • Approaching problematic designs with an apologetics perspective
  • Abstracting the lessons in such “toy problems” to get better at the problems we face in our real world design

But wait, don’t answer

In addition to the workshop, we’ll have tasty catering, a keepsake workbook, guest speakers, and if we get enough people, we can select one of the interfaces to be produced by a special effects house before the December release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Next step

Prices for the event will depend on the venue and the venue depends on the number of attendees. So express your interest by signing up for the mailing list below. It’s MailChimp, which keeps you in control of the email subscription, and since I hate spam, too, I’ll keep your email information absolutely private. Join that mailing list by clicking the link below.

I’m interested! Let me know as more information comes available.

Christopher Noessel is a designer, speaker, keeper of the blog, and co-author of the Rosenfeld Media book Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction (Rosenfeld Media, 2012). He has lectured and taught about designing for speculative futures internationally.


This event is not an officially licensed anything. Star Wars and its associated brands and trademarks are the property of Disney, and is not affiliated with Disney in any way. This workshop is an exercise in critique and education, and use of the material is protected under the Fair Use doctrine.

Chat follow-up: Humanoid robots

The live chat of the O’Reilly webinar that Christopher delivered on 18 April 2013 had some great questions, but not all of them made it out of the chat room and onto the air. I’m taking a short break from the release of the sci-fi survey to answer some of those questions.

Q: Adrian Warman asks: Humanoid robots (android) are not as efficient mechanically, yet we ‘prefer’ them (C3PO v. R2D2?) Will our preferences always override efficiency?


A: I think it depends on the context of use. Humans are good at humans. So, when robots have social functions, it’s best that they appear humanoid, while avoiding the Uncanny Valley (or see page 183 in the book for more). They should stick to the Canny Rise, to coin a term. When they need to do other, non-social things for us, like build cars, or vaccuum our floors, or mine for rare earths in asteroid belts, they should be fit to task.

Giving credit where credit is due, this is exactly the case with the Star Wars robots. C-3PO’s a protocol droid, for “human-cyborg relations” and R2-D2 is ostensibly an astromech maintenance droid. Their appearances match their functions.