Tom Karen talked Apple’s Jony Ive out of quitting industrial design

“Tom Karen has been described as ‘the man who designed the 70s’ but, he now reveals, his influence goes much further. His design work includes the Raleigh Chopper bike, the Marble Run game, vehicles such as the Reliant Robin, the Scimitar GTE, the Bond Bug and even the Popemobile – plus countless other products familiar to anyone over the age of 30,” Theo Merz reports for The Telegraph. “But he also claims an indirect role in the look and feel of Apple’s contemporary suite of gadgets.”

“Because without Karen, Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s head of design who is credited with the distinctive aesthetics of the iPhone and iPad, might never have entered the industry,” Merz reports. “‘I worked with his father [a silversmith who became a design technology teacher and later a schools inspector] on the panel of a design competition for students,’ the 87-year-old tells me in the living room of the converted Cambridge townhouse where he has lived for 20 years. ‘He got in touch with me a bit later and said, my son Jonathan’s at university in Newcastle and thinking about giving up his industrial design course. Maybe you could revive his interest?'”

Merz reports, “Karen invited father and son to the Letchworth offices of Ogle, the design company he led from 1962 to 1999, and which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary. ‘I showed them around, and the outcome was that Jonathan stuck to industrial design and made a huge success of it.’ If the student Jony was impressed by Karen’s work, now the feeling is mutual, with the older designer owning an iPhone, Apple computer and iPad.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. The three (not counting multiple instances of the same object) best objects in my life are the 2009 MBP on my lap, the iPhone 5c I’m using as a hot spot to connect with the internet and the iPad 3 sitting nearby. Thank you Apple and Sir Jony. You have made my world better.

  2. Grew up with Karen and Ogle design inspiring back in the day if a little bonkers with it, but then that’s what good design is all about knowing where to draw the line. Great man and can see how he would be an inspiration to Ive.

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