“The man who designed the iPod ponders the question with furrowed brow,” Marco della Cava reports for USA Today. “‘That’s a good one,’ says Jony Ive, when asked what he would turn his talents to if Apple no longer required them. There’s a long silence, then a whispered, thoughtful and prolonged answer that boils down to one thing. He’s not going anywhere.”

“If Apple has a design wizard, it is Ive. He joined the company in 1992 and has been the fertile and detail-obsessed mind behind culture-shaping products such as the lollipop-colored iMacs (1998), the iPod (2001), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010). His work has earned him countless design awards, flattery in the form of product imitation and even a new name — Sir Jonathan — courtesy of Queen Elizabeth II,” della Cava reports. “Most recently, Ive and his hardware design group collaborated closely with teams led by Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, to dream up the newly launched iOS 7 operating system and 5c and 5s iPhones. Industry observers and consumers alike see these new products as critical to proving that the company Steve Jobs created can still think differently.”

Jonathan Ive, Apple Senior Vice President, Design

Jonathan Ive, Apple Senior Vice President, Design

della Cava reports, “While the affable and well-coiffed Federighi, 44, often bounds onstage like a game-show host at Apple developer and media presentations, the privacy-loving Ive appears only in polished videos. But as Apple seeks to fend off competition from the likes of Samsung and other Android armies, the reserved knight of this digital Oz is peeking out from behind his curtain. In a rare interview, Ive, joined by Federighi, settles into a spartan meeting room with a simple black-and-white photo of a MacBook on one wall and the new lineup of iPhones on a counter. Over the course of an hour, the pair discusses their teamwork, personal philosophies and commitment to Apple’s unwavering mission.”

“Apple is notorious for secrecy and stage-managing its every move, but there is undeniably genuine chemistry between the two 40-something company veterans,” della Cava reports. “Although in many ways the two men are peers, Ive possesses a magnetism and gravitas that makes him stand out.”

Some snippets:

• “This is terribly important and at the heart of what we do. We care about how to design the inside of something you’ll never see, because we think it’s the right thing to do.” – Jony Ive

• “I would love, love, love to show you what we are working on now, but I’d lose my job.” – Jony Ive

• “I’ve been here for years, and the way we’re working is the same. Nothing’s changed in terms of that. We’re trying to solve problems in terms of future products that are incredibly complex, whose resolutions have no precedent.” – Jony Ive, on the post-Steve Jobs Apple

Much more in the full interview here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "Fred Mertz" for the heads up.]