Apple’s Jony Ive reflects on the nature of objects, the fragility of ideas, and 20 years of Apple design

“Many of us can remember our first encounter with an Apple product. For a rare few, it may have been the Apple 1 (1976). For some, the turning point was the iMac (1998). And who can forget the frenzy surrounding the iPod’s debut some 15 years ago, or the iPhone (2007), the iPad (2010), and most recently the Apple Watch and Apple Pencil (both 2015),” Tony Chambers writes for Wallpaper*. “Launching today, a new book gathers Apple’s most memorable projects in a visual compendium engineered with the same precision and scrupulous attention to detail as one of its products.”

“This is a comprehensive and objective portrait of Apple products produced over the past 20 years,” Chambers writes. “It is a quiet and elegant work, a high-quality piece of book design, typography and production. It is far from a show-off vanity project. Great care, time – and money – has been spent on making it a paean to good, useful design and manufacturing. It is also of course a paean to Steve Jobs. In the five years since his death, Apple has forged on without him. Designed by Apple in California is a tribute both to him, and to the products that have shaped our future.”

“The tome is Apple at its purest: the products,” Chambers writes. “We caught up with Ive to find out more…”

Jonathan Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer
Jonathan Ive, Apple Chief Design Officer
Wallpaper*: The new book, quite unusually for Apple, is a look back.

Jony Ive: The biggest challenge for us was the fact that our focus and preoccupation is always on the future. So that tends to exclude much time to look back at the work we have previously done. Sometimes if we are struggling with a particular issue then that gives us reason to go back and look at the way we have solved problems in the past. But because we’ve been so consumed by our current and future work we came to realise we didn’t have a catalogue of the physical products. So about eight years ago we felt an obligation to address this and build an objective archive. Many of the products that you see, we actually had to go out and purchase [laughs]. It’s a rather shameful admission, but it’s just not an area that we really invested much time or energy in, so we started to build an archive of the physical products.

Much more in the full interview – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: “Many of us can remember our first encounter with an Apple product.” For us, it was the Apple IIe and, shortly thereafter, the Macintosh.

Since Steve Jobs passed, Jony Ive has always held the most power at Apple.

Jony Ive is the most important person at Apple.MacDailyNews, May 27, 2015

What Jony wants, Jony gets.

The fact is that Apple without Jony Ive is worse off than Apple without Tim Cook. Tim Cook is easier to replace than Jony Ive.

Steve Jobs called Jonathan Ive his ‘spiritual partner’ at Apple. He told his biographer Walter Isaacson that Ive had ‘more operation power’ at Apple than anyone besides Jobs himself — that there’s no one at the company who can tell Ive what to do. That, Jobs said, is “the way I set it up.” — MacDailyNews, May 25, 2015

SEE ALSO:
‘Designed by Apple in California’ photo book chronicles 20 years of Apple design, dedicated to the memory of Steve Jobs – November 15, 2016
Steve Jobs left design chief Jonathan Ive ‘more operational power’ than anyone else at Apple – October 21, 2011

20 Comments

  1. “Take Jony Ive, If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony. The difference that Jony has made, not only at Apple but in the world, is huge. He is a wickedly intelligent person in all ways. He understands business concepts, marketing concepts. He picks up just like that, click. He understands what we do at our core better than anyone. He gets the big picture as well as the most infinitesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He’s not just a designer. That’s why he works directly for me. There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up.”

    “Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.”

    Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/nl/qB1h3.l

    1. Ive is a great designer and probably still the best tech designer out there but he seems to need Jobs to function at his best.

      The forum nowadays are filled with problems with hardware design choices which are hard to defend:

      — obsession with thinness vs practicality like more battery life or making RAM in mac mini non upgradable (that’s a DESKTOP, a inch or two larger would make little difference), the APPLE REMOTE which many find hard to use , the cylinder MAC PRO with non upgradable GPU cards ( previous gen. six year old cheese grater Mac Pros upgraded with mid range cards are now 2-3 faster in GPU speeds which is absurd) etc. I can go on , the Mac Pro has amazing ‘gee whiz’ engineering but for the MUCH of the TARGET AUDIENCE is it practical ?

      Some of Ive’s designs today seem to be aimed at impressing his design buddies like Marc Newson and the fashion guys (small neat jewelry like ) than ‘practicality for computing’.

      (I have Mac Pros, a Mac Book Pro, a 12.9 iPad Pro etc).

      Today with many crying for updates for the Mac Pro (3 years plus no updates no drop in price) , Mac Mini (the mini has been crippled and no updates, before that it was bestselling computer), the iMac etc Ive is now involved in fashion shows for Apple (the Met Gala) , designing Christmas trees with apple’s other top designer Marc Newson in London and now working on this book etc.

      (that of course does NOT mean that Ive does not still have a whole bunch of great hits like the super successful iPhones. It’s just that it’s uneven as if a ‘sounding board’ in the form of Jobs is missing… )

      —–
      this brings to the point:

      Note there were many ‘Geniuses’ at Apple under Jobs. Many when they left did NOT perform as well without Jobs:

      Jon Rubeinstein (iMac, iPod) who went to Palm (which died)

      Ron Johnson who masterminded the Apple stores was FIRED from TARGET as CEO (with a badly flawed run)

      Tony Fadell (so called father of iPod) founded Nest (hundreds of thousands of recalls of faulty products) joined Google and FIRED from Google.

      June 2016
      “Tony Fadell, the charismatic former Apple AAPL ….. co founder of Nest… is leaving the company, now a unit of Alphabet , amid reports of poor results, internal turmoil and staff departures.”

      STEVE JOBS SEEMED TO BE ABLE TO BRING OUT THE BEST, ACT AS SOUNDING BOARD , LEAD BRILLIANT PEOPLE TO HEIGHTS THAT EXCEED EXPECTATIONS. Without him many seem not able to perform at their best.

      ——–
      I know as usual when I go against the grain of loyalty to Apple I’m going to get one starred regardless of me posting stuff with facts..

      Many people are young or just joined the Apple ecosystem from Windows or something and they don’t know what it used to be like under Jobs where ALL aspects of pleasing the consumer, of how a consumer USES a device was taken into account …

      (I’m also an apple investor and sometimes I write this stuff so that people will pick it up and perhaps somehow it’s filtered up to Apple and make a difference. )

    2. getting tired of hearing “fragility of ideas”, imho there is an unbridled leadership void created largely by jobs naively anointing ive as untouchable crown prince, there’s plenty of talent out there better than ive. the situation is very predictable as what followed after disney, oppenheimer and countless others following death of creative leader

  2. This ‘look back ‘ book is very un Jobs like.

    Once when Jobs was asked why old ground breaking Apple devices weren’t displayed at Apple he said he didn’t want to look backwards that Apple was not a ‘museum’ (he gave stuff away to museums like the Smithsonian).

    Jobs didn’t even want to celebrate ANNIVERSARIES at Apple.

    CultofMac:

    “David Pakman worked at Apple from 1991 through 1997, and when the 30th anniversary rolled around in 2006, he dreamt up the perfect way to celebrate, he told Fast Company. It was a massive party in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park. The event would include everyone who had ever worked for the company, and we wish it would have happened because that would have been one hell of a giant cake.

    But when Pakman e-mailed Jobs and suggested that they actually put on the big show to celebrate the company and its people, he got an answer right away:

    David,

    Apple is focused on the future, not the past.

    —Steve

    It makes sense, we suppose. Jobs seemed obsessed about the company’s next moves, and he didn’t need a recap of what it had already done.”

    ——-
    this reinforces what I said has changed at Apple (see post above).

  3. Ive should look at the garbage that is the ergo disaster ATV4 remote. His “graphic” design abilities also lack.

    He’s after fashion, not function.

    At Apple, it’s Fashion over Function. And please, stop making those God awful videos when new products are launch. They were nice in the beginning, but it’s old now. REALLY old and scripted and fake as Hell. Nobody relieves what you are saying.

  4. Jon Ive is an immigrant.
    Steve Jobs father is an immigrant.
    Many engineers at Apple are immigrants.
    Some engineers at Apple are of African descent.

    Under Donald Trump, he would have refused many of these people entrance into the US of A based solely on his personal bigotry.

  5. This looks like rear view mirror. Look what we did not what are doing now. Apple under Tim Cook might go down as the biggest and most tragic waste of an opportunity on history. Look no further than the watch, iPhone 5 (disaster when the world wanted larger screens)’ Apple TV, no 4k awful UI, no content streaming, IPhone 7. Same tired design for 3 years and questionable MacBook pros that don’t color match the phones but the old models, Google Pixel with connect native but not Apple. Pro products basically abandoned. iCloud awful and in by a bloated drunk who sells 99.9% of his shares and masks his incompetence with fat creepy arrogance. Apple is being left behind now. All rhI executives dump all of their stock as soon as they can. Tim Cook is clueless and is letting the greatest tech company slowly but now rapidly decay. Apple is in a rapid decline. Period.

  6. I like MDN’s take. The Apple ][ plus was my first actual experience with Apple. Most people had no idea about Apple until the Apple][.

    I think Jonny Ive is a great designer and has lead Apple in a great direction however a “Antiques Roadshow” took away some of his genius. When the first Mac came there was some special ones made just for employees; I think they were just for the Mac team. The body was transparent so you could see inside. The person on AR had inherited it, but was not going to sell it (only in computers could something from the 80’s be an antique). I am sure Jonny had to know of its existence. Steve Jobs definitely knew and probably still had his. There were some other products in the 80’s that had the transparent look, especially a popular phone. So the inspiration was not just the special Mac. The iMac was a great design and lead the way for the Apple reboot. I was just a little let down to know it was not the first transparent Mac.

  7. I learned BASIC on the Apple ][e when it was brand new. I can tell you Jony needs to go. It is time for Apple to really take some new directions. Jony is brilliant but, the fact his fingerprint is apparent on every Apple industrial design shows that if Apple is truly going to take new directions they will need to find someone new to lead the industrial design teams.

    1. As I have stated before, this is my prime beef against Apple present day.

      Thin is great. That said, losing ports and productivity incurring additional expenses is not desirable.

      We need BALANCE.

      1. I do agree with you—and until I retired I felt the same frustration, at times forced to adapt downwards or make do with ageing tech, and sometimes acquiring non-Apple solutions, all because my favoured company were dawdling with crystal balls instead of arming the likes of us for computational battle.

        Apple are decidedly not a company selling BALANCE. They are barely a company selling ADEQUATE HIGH-END TECH. Increasingly, they are selling magic to the masses, and as a result, high-end & long-time users suffer like jilted lovers. They are finally unmasked, revealed to be driven by pecuniary standards just like any other garden-variety firm, servicing twee millenials whilst professionals gasp at fumes like miners at a cave-in.

        1. “They are barely a company selling ADEQUATE HIGH-END TECH. Increasingly, they are selling magic to the masses, and as a result, high-end & long-time users suffer like jilted lovers, and as a result, high-end & long-time users suffer like jilted lovers.”

          Well, this jilted PRO lover has been increasingly disappointed under Commander Cook.

          With all that money and resources, please, someone tell me, why they cannot do it all!?!

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