I am looking for information on the designs of Emperor Palpatine's chair from Return of the Jedi (1983).

There is information available about who designed the chair Palpatine uses in Episode III. I'm looking for similar information regarding his throne in Episode VI.

Star Wars Storyboards: The Original Trilogy enter image description here

The Star Wars Archives: Episodes IV–VI, 1977–1983

The Making of Return of the Jedi enter image description here

The Art of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi enter image description here

The Making of Return of the Jedi enter image description here

Emperor Palpatine's chair sculpted in polystyrene by Keith Short enter image description here

I find it interesting that at some point somebody changed the leather pattern on the chair so the back matched the seat, instead of having contrasting strips like in Joe Johnston’s sketch and the initial sculpture. They also carried the padding up to the very top of the chair, whereas in the sculpture there was a dark void that framed the crown of the Emperor’s head, rather like an anti-halo. Was that meant to have a glowing panel installed at one point like in the Johnston sketch? I can see how that might make lighting his face difficult on set. enter image description here

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  • 13
    In or out of universe? Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 11:45
  • 11
    We know which chair you're asking about, you don't need to keep adding images of it. Just one image is fine.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 11:50
  • 3
    @F1Krazy I understand the need to keep the question clean, but the picture you left in the question shows the least amount of chair of them all.
    – Mast
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 7:57

3 Answers 3


The design of the throne was definitely a group effort. The Return of the Jedi Sketchbook shows a selection of concept drawings for the throne room on the Death Star, including an interesting example that shows the throne suspended from the ceiling.

Return of the Jedi Sketchbook

Throne Designs

The black-and-white concept art in the book was produced by Joe Johnson, Nilo Rodis-Jamero, Ralph McQuarrie, and Norman Reynolds. As you can see from the differently styled sketches of the throne, more than just one person contributed to the design process. The throne suspended from the ceiling is the work of Johnson, the art director—visual effects (identifiable by his handwriting on the comment). From the style of the drawing (especially the shading), the other concepts on that page are identifiable as the work of Rodis-Jamero, the assistant art director.

There was color artwork by McQuarrie (conceptual artist), bit it came at a rather late stage of the design process, since it shows the spoked window ("a fitting background for the supreme ruler of the galaxy," as the Sketchbook comments put it).

Color Throneroom

The general shape of the throne and the design of the surrounding room were fairly well developed before that element was added.


However, McQuarrie did also contribute to the design process, as did Reynolds (production designer); I particularly like this unused throne/throne room design by Reynolds, with the twisting walkways.

Throne Room by Reynolds

(A scanned PDF of the Sketchbook can be found online, but I'm not going to link to it. I actually own a physical copy of the book from 1983, and it's a wonderful resource.)

  • 1
    I've deleted mine. Yours is the superior answer and the colour concept art definitely came later.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 18:34
  • @Buzz Who is painter for this i.sstatic.net/2oOqQ.jpg
    – bpvwvqd
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 0:59
  • 1
    @bpvxxvqd That piece of artwork is definitely by Nilo Rodis-Jamero.
    – Buzz
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 2:18
  • @Buzz Please Is another Design sources available besides this? i.sstatic.net/7tilt.jpg
    – bpvwvqd
    Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 11:21

The fellow you're looking for is most likely Norman Reynolds. According to the linked article, he designed the film's overall aesthetic.

Another possibility is Bill Hargreaves, who was the supervising propmaker.


Joe Johnston Designs

The Making of Return of the Jedi enter image description here

A quick sketch of the Emperor’s chair on the same page elicited a signed response from Lucas: “I like this.” Johnston followed up with a more detailed study (ABOVE, ), without a footrest.

  • 5
    Is this quoted from something? It seems to be referring to things not present in your answer; please properly quote other people's words.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 20:39

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