Apple design chief Jonathan Ive: Materials matter

Invisible Shield for Apple iPhone 4!“As a designer you can’t help but think about weird stuff. I can’t help but imagine that if curious space aliens with no knowledge of human artifacts came to this planet and went through my apartment, they’d initially find little to distinguish one possession from another,” hipstomp reports for Core77. “But I’d be willing to wager that it is the iPhone 4, amidst the clutter of objects on my desk, that they would pick up and begin inquisitively licking or running their antennae over or what have you.”

“The new iPhone is currently the standout object on my desk, this thing that looks like a mere black rectangle from across the room but starts to look like something very different at the range it’s meant to be used at. Holding it, you understand at once why Apple has physical stores; while you can watch iPhone commercials or see print campaigns about its features, when you first hold this exquisitely-crafted object you have a different experience entirely, one that cannot be adequately conveyed in two dimensions,” hipstomp reports. “Having seen countless photos of the device in advance, I was still surprised by the real thing when I popped it out of the box and touched it.”

MacDailyNews Take: iPhone 4 is like a finely-crafted watch. You can see and feel the care than went into it when you hold it.

hipstomp continues, “‘A big part of the experience of a physical object has to do with the materials,'” says Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, during a brief chat with Core77. ‘[At Apple] we experiment with and explore materials, processing them, learning about the inherent properties of the material–and the process of transforming it from raw material to finished product; for example, understanding exactly how the processes of machining it or grinding it affect it. That understanding, that preoccupation with the materials and processes, is [very] essential to the way we work.'”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Tim B.” for the heads up.]

31 Comments

  1. “I can’t help but imagine that if curious space aliens with no knowledge of human artifacts came to this planet and went through my apartment, they’d initially find little to distinguish one possession from another,” hipstomp reports for Core77. “But I’d be willing to wager that it is the iPhone 4, amidst the clutter of objects on my desk, that they would pick up and begin inquisitively licking or running their antennae over or what have you.””

    Well, make sure they don’t lick it in the lower left-hand corner, or they won’t be able to phone home.

  2. Wait – hasn’t Johnathan heard that, after seconds of careless consideration and being convinced by the irrational, that tech pundits have outed the the iPhone 4 as “fragile”? Surely even he must know the folly of his materials research! This flaw is right up there with glass iMacs that shatter during earthquakes (according to research by The Enderle Group, a bastion of ill conceived critique).

    I am still not entirely sold on the iPhone 4 design, but the materials do, in fact, make it more visually appealing. I also think the new form factor is a bit more comfortable for texting.

  3. I don’t see why people would see it as fragile. All you have to do is hold it to see how robust and well made it is, any idiot should be able to see that. Also, it’s not just regular glass they are using, it’s the same kind of glass that goes in helicopters and high speed trains. If this glass is fragile someone might want to tell the pilots and train engineers. And the steel is 5 times stronger than regular steel. I’ve worked in cell phone repair for over two year and have NEVER came across a phone that came even close to being better built.

  4. At HP we pay the same kind of attention to detail…

    Our materials specialists have developed 4 unique blends of adhesive to ensure our “features” stickers leave a distinctive residue no matter which type of plastic component they’re applied to.

    Our engineers make sure to add little rubber bumpers strategically around the frame of our notebook screens to make up for the flex, ensuring the plastic doesn’t rub when the lid is closed.

    We’ve developed amazing faux carbon fiber effect plastics with little HP logos patterned all over, so it looks like our plastic products have the look of a finely-tuned NASCAR dashboard.

  5. This is why Ive is my pick to replace Steve when the time comes….he’s a visual idea guy. No offense to Cook, who is a great businessman and would also make an excellent CEO; I just prefer a design guy in the lead.

  6. The architect Bruno Taut dismissed the more facile works of his contemporaries who became famous through publishing pictures and drawings of their work by stating that buildings which could be accurately represented in two dimensions were’t actually architecture.

  7. I love Jonny, but I’m not sure he has the ability to schmooze that a good CEO needs. Plus, I don’t want that talent wasted on board meetings and paperwork. Make him CVO (Chief Visionary Officer) and put him just below the CEO slot.

    As for the original iPhone, I was “meh” about it…till I touched one for the first time. I can’t wait to get my hands on my new iPhone 4…

  8. Ive is definitely a long distance Internet mentor to my own simple (but sophisticated & highly usable) products I design for my own company.

    NOTHING beats looking at and analyzing how the masters in the field do their work.

    NO ONE but you can keep up YOUR enthusiasm, but the Ives of the world provide the inspiration, that keeps us going when all we are discovering are the inevitable faults and failures in the long process of “Getting It Right”.

  9. @MacMental … quote; <<I think the thing that amazes me most about the iPhone is how much it looks like the monolith in the movie 2010 “the year me make contact”.>>

    Which is different from the monolith in 2001 a Space Odyssey in what way exactly?

  10. Apparantly Apple hates powerbook users. Iphone 4 won’t activate, sync with Mac OS X Tiger. Although it will do just fine for Windoze XP (!!!) users. So now I have to buy a new mac just so that my iPhone will work with it.
    Nice payback for loyal customers, Apple!!!

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