When you step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge you are transported to a far off galaxy where the familiar Star Wars stories are set. Although the planet Batuu has never appeared on film or TV, it immediately feels like part of the Star Wars Galaxy. In film and theme park design, it’s the art directors who lead the teams that make sure the world you see is believable.
Doug Chiang is a VP & Executive Creative Director at Lucasfilm. He has a 40 year history of art direction for video games, film, and now theme parks. He was chosen as the lead art director from Lucasfilm to work with Walt Disney Imagineering on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge including both big attractions. At a recent media preview for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance we were able to interview Chang about his work on the attraction and all of Galaxy’s Edge.
According to Chiang, designing for a land like Galaxy’s Edge starts with an understanding of how the world of Star Wars looks and feels. From there the team researches the design elements sketches out the looks, and eventually makes a model of the new area or structure for the production team to build off of.
Chiang says Star Wars has to feel familiar to guests, so it is about 80% stuff that you might find in the world today but the remaining 20% is specific to the Star Wars Galaxy. That means a lot of the props and other decor for the land were made from pre-1980s materials to capture the look and feel of the first Star Wars films (Star Wars: A New Hope was released in 1977).
An award-winning designer, Chiang first worked with Industrial Light & Magic from 1989 to 1995. He later joined Lucasfilm to work on the Star Wars prequels and was the concept designer for the Star Wars: Attack of the Clones where he worked with George Lucas. He work on Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has been a five year journey and the result is unlike anything theme park fans have ever seen before.