BBtv: Joel talks to Syd Mead

Syd Mead is an ornery but welcoming man, who let me take up his time asking dumb questions about design, cars, gadgets that look like they're moving, and what got him into designing cars in the first place. And that was before we started talking about all the movie design work he'd done. Thanks so much again to the Boing Boing TV crew, especially Xeni, Derek, and Dana, for putting it all together. Getting to spend a few hours with one of my idols and riffle through his studio was an undeserved high point.
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10 Responses to BBtv: Joel talks to Syd Mead

  1. Xeni Jardin says:

    There’s a bunch more coming! Two words peepul: LEGO. SPINNER.

  2. artbot says:

    Great interview and an entertaining watch.

    But what the hell’s that giant black ring on your pinky, Joel? Shock collar that signals incoming iPhone calls? Hand-crafted ring made of pure Rhenium? Cracker Jack toy?

  3. the_boy says:

    @ Joel – Syd being the inspiration for the tech of the prequels is the first thing to make them make sense to me. It’s almost retro-futurism, then, going from the original trilogy’s iconic but functional tech to the prequels shiny fancy impossible stuff. If I wanted a glorious space-faring past, I’d model it after Syd Mead.

  4. Ledbury Longshot says:

    1. Joel, yer the man. Gizmodo hasnt been the same since you’ve moved on. Its interesting, dont get me wrong… but it aint the same.

    3. Mead, and his association with US steel, is why I went to Lehigh to become a designer. How I ended up in Europe working for a bank is another, even less interesting, story. But great to see Mead’s still alive and kicking.

    2. at the tail end of the clip, when Mead is talking about the Concept book… i swear I saw hints of an AT-AT in there. Man is a genius.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      Ledbury, you’re too kind!

      If I am not mistaken, Ralph McQuarrie was influenced by that very Mead drawing when he was mocking up the AT-AT. I think Lucas dreamt them initially when seeing the shipping cranes on docks, but maybe that was McQuarrie, too.

      Either way Syd definitely had a hand, if only by way of inspiration, in Star Wars. Especially the prequels, I think. A lot of the early Republic ships look like something straight off a Mead page, what with all the chrome and such.

  5. bobkat says:

    i love him.

  6. kaiza says:

    This was awesome. Thankyou very much.

    ..But please don’t tell me this is all we’re going to get to see!

  7. Joel Johnson says:

    There’s more coming!

  8. proto says:

    I suppose I’d be ornery too, if I were Syd Mead and everyone else was. . . well . . . everyone else.

  9. zuzu says:


    Also, I’d like to see which model printer he’s referring to.

    The Samsung SCX-4500 looks decidedly monolithic to my eyes.

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