3 Apple designers share Jony Ive’s real legacy

Suzanne Labarre for FastCompany:

We reached out to three former Apple employees—Don Norman, Ken Kocienda, and Imran Chaudhri—who collaborated with Ive during different eras and in various capacities at Apple


“I thought to myself, Jony has no idea how we work in software.”

“Jony’s greatest design legacy, beyond form, beyond surface, and beyond question is his relentless pursuit of beauty. Very few people in our industry care about every aspect, every detail in service of beauty as much as him.

Here’s Sir Jony appearing on popular UK kid’s TV show, Blue Peter — probably the best glance we ever got inside his design studio.


MacDailyNews Take: We love Jony Ive, his designs, his fantastic computers, but Apple’s software really did seem to take a stumble following the ouster of Forstall.


  1. “I recall one day when he [Ive] came to me with a new design for a desktop computer that was not only beautiful and elegant but made access to the internal memory boards dramatically easier than with our existing computers. Yet he could not get anyone to use it in Apple’s product line.” – Don Norman, former VP of Advanced Technology at Apple.

    It would seem Jony never attempted to fight that battle ever again, as all Apple computers from 2013-2018 have at least one glaring example of unnecessarily difficult user repairability that a college froshman designer wouldn’t have allowed. EVERY ONE.

    “Jony’s tenure as Apple’s chief design officer was far less successful. When he took over software design, it seemed to me that he wanted to do little more than treat it as a branch of industrial design. … For years now, Apple has been working around just such a software design leadership mismatch.” – Ken Kocienda, former iPhone software principal engineer

    Ken is spot on there. It’s like nobody left at Apple — and certainly not Ive — has even read the human interface guidelines that once made Apple the best in the business.

  2. The way he looks, the way he talks, Ive never struck me as a talented industrial “designer” or anything. But then, he was not designing the body of Ferrari, and Apple seems to be the only computer/phone company who singles out somebody and self-praise him/her. There is not much area any designer could tinker with for things like computers and other electronic gadgets particularly after some new peoducts have been exhausted (basically all square except a stupid garbage can cylinder Mac Pro). It’s either square or round, thninning beyond practical or etc to over-simplified the matter. Or perhaps a coffee table self-propaganda book with a super hype?
    He was so bored that he encroached (or he was losing his place and somebody gave him a disastrous assignment into the software UI (iOS7 was it?) and it was a disster ever since. He was not like any design genius with a lot of flairs that you often see in car deisgn, architecture or even some basic household items that are beautifully “designed”.
    And it’s not like he was singlehandedly “designed” anything. He just grew up cozy among his old chums in Apple, and particularly after Cook (equally boring personality) took over the helm and fired the truly talented Forstall who threatened cozy lazy brasses, his surroundings are cleared up. He (claimed) “designed” chairs in the new shiny office, an ugly diamond ring etc, really?
    Now he still tries to exploit Apple without any clean break. He will just not be on Apple’s payroll any more but getting big contracts from Apple. Apple saw a danger of keeping Ive much more without appreiable achievements and criticisms abound. Also, a sign of insecurity in becoming cleanly “independent” that requires a true talent instead of pretending to be a design “giant” in Apple.
    It’s been just too much self-propaganda as if Ive was such a design genius appreared only once in centuries etc. The result of tapping each other’s shoulder among old chums who took the reign after the departure of a “true genius”, and was getting excessive financial compnensation which is not compatible with what he really did. Sorry for harsh remaks but I could only judge his quality of work or level of his “talent” only by what I actually see and use (and spend my own money).
    I am sure others have totally different take.

    1. Extraordinary, low level thinking. What amazes me the most about your baseless ‘POV’, is you decided to publicly post it. And think about running a spell check next time.

      1. And you care because .. please don’t answer that.

        While he may have been unnecessarily harsh in his delivery, his assessment of the original poster’s intellectual content was a bullseye.

  3. Personally I like aesthetic in the design to compliment the quality of the software and hardware. Sometimes a not so good design will come out, but if they don’t shoot for good design and pleasing aesthetics, NONE will be. No one else tried such designs until Jobs and Jony came along.

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