Apple designer Jonathan Ive says current projects are his 'most important' work

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
While visiting his home country of the U.K. to be knighted, Apple design chief Jonathan Ive said in an interview that he will most likely be remembered for the projects he is currently working on because they feel like "the most important and the best work" that his team has ever done.

The Telegraph published a two-part interview (1, 2) with Ive on Wednesday, the day of his official knighting ceremony, as noted by The Next Web.

The interviewer questioned Ive as to which of his Apple designs he will most be remembered for.

"It?s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we?re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we?ve done, and so it would be what we?re working on right now, which of course I can?t tell you about," he said.

Author Shane Richmond went on to ask if Ive would tell the Queen of the U.K. that he couldn't comment if she asked about the design of the next iPhone. "That would be funny,? Ive said without answering the question.

Though Ive likely has a range of products in the pipeline, his comments will likely be interepreted as evidence toward a rumored Apple television. According to one report from early this year, Ive has a 50-inch prototype TV inside his well-guarded design studio.

Ive began working for Apple in 1992 before becoming the company's lead designer in 1997. He came to work so closely with late co-founder Steve Jobs that Jobs called him a "spiritual partner" in his biography. Jobs also said that he set up the company to give Ive so much "operational power" that no one else could tell him what to do.

Jonathan Ive


Last December, Ive was recognized by the U.K. for is "services to design and enterprise" with the title of Knight Commander of the British Empire. Ive said in his recent interview that the honor is "incredibly humbling."

Even after spending twenty years in California, Ive still ties his design aesthetic to the U.K's "remarkable tradition" for designing and making. He calls himself "the product of a very British design education.? Ive's father, a silversmith, first inspired him to become a designer.

Ive articulated his method as focusing on simplicity. ?We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave you with the sense that that?s the only possible solution that makes sense,? he said. ?Our products are tools and we don?t want design to get in the way. We?re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we?re trying to order the products."

Products that he and his team bring to market are meant to "speak to a set of values," Ive continued, adding that they are preoccupied with a "sense of care."

"What our products will not speak to is a schedule, what our products will not speak to is trying to respond to some corporate or competitive agenda. We?re very genuinely designing the best products that we can for people."

Still, Ive might not be completely satisfied with Apple's output. When asked about skeuomorphic design features like fake leather texture and stitching in iOS and OS X, he visibly winced in way that the interviewer interpreted as a "gesture of sympathy."

"My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that's our focus and that's our responsibility," Ive said. "In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."

Ive went on to say that he's careful about what products he lets out of the studio and into mass production. He remarked that deciding to abandon work on a project is an "important part" of his job.

According to the designer, his team spent a "significant percentage of the time" working on flagship products, like the iPod, iPhone and the iPad, without knowing whether it would be possible to solve the problems that they had set out to address. Conversely, other projects appeared to have solutions and reached a "very mature stage" before Ive realized that they wouldn't work.

"On a number of occasions we've actually all been honest with ourselves and said 'you know, this isn't good enough, we need to stop'. And that's very difficult," he said.

Ive was quick to credit his team for much of his success as a designer, noting that working with Apple's design team is "particularly precious" because many of the team members have worked together for over 15 years.

Apple Design Studio
Apple design chief Jonathan Ive somewhere in Apple's design studio | Source: Objectified

"There's a wonderful thing about learning as a group. A fundamental part of that is making mistakes together. There's no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times," he said.

Ive added that his team has become "rather addicted to learning as a group of people and trying to solve very difficult problems" together.

"We get enormous satisfaction from doing that. Particularly when you're sat on a plane and it appears that the majority of people are using something that you've collectively agonised over. It's a wonderful reward," he said.

Ive resisted the assertion that Apple would see a decline without Jobs at the helm. He asserted that a "large group" of Apple employees are developing products the same way they did "two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago."

For more of Ive's remarks, see Part One and Part Two of the The Telegraph's interview.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 104
    mauszmausz Posts: 242member


    I especially liked his work on the 4S.....


     


    but without joking, you're almost always remembered for the last thing you did, so let's hope he again delivers this year.

    applehead
  • Reply 2 of 104
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 591member


    So Ives sagely stating that the best and most important work is what his team is doing today gets extrapolated to mean he's working on a mythical Apple TV?  Please AI, stop making my eyes roll.     

  • Reply 3 of 104
    mike fixmike fix Posts: 220member


    I would hope that's what he'd say everyday.  

  • Reply 4 of 104
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,584member
    Ive is an incredibly humble and generous human being who truly cares first and foremost about the user experience, and delighting them every time they use one of his team's creations. This is what makes Apple great and what makes so many other companies mediocre at best. And it is truly offensive when the likes of Google, Samsung, HTC and the others resort to stealing to fool consumers into thinking they have the same abilities and care as much for the consumer experience and astetic.
  • Reply 5 of 104
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    Ive TV
  • Reply 6 of 104
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member
    freerange wrote: »
    Ive is an incredibly humble and generous human being who truly cares first and foremost about the user experience, and delighting them every time they use one of his team's creations. This is what makes Apple great and what makes so many other companies mediocre at best. And it is truly offensive when the likes of Google, Samsung, HTC and the others resort to stealing to fool consumers into thinking they have the same abilities and care as much for the consumer experience and astetic.

    You'll survive.
  • Reply 7 of 104


    Please, come on. There are many great companies out there. And yes, Google, Amazon, Samsung are some of them. It's not just that cares about the user experience. 

  • Reply 8 of 104
    irelandireland Posts: 17,422member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by therealestmc View Post


    Please, come on. There are many great companies out there. And yes, Google, Amazon, Samsung are some of them. It's not just that cares about the user experience. 



    I'm not being a fanboy, but there are not many great companies out there. There are many great movies out there, but great companies are very rare indeed.

  • Reply 9 of 104
    tunetune Posts: 91member


    applebraun.jpg


     


    iphoneadirectcopyoflgpr.png


     


     


     


     


     


     


    "We have always been SHAMELESS about stealing great ideas." - Steve Jobs


     


     


     


     


    Quote:


    Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post



    And it is truly offensive when the likes of Google, Samsung, HTC and the others resort to stealing to fool consumers into thinking they have the same abilities and care as much for the consumer experience and astetic.

  • Reply 10 of 104
    scotty321scotty321 Posts: 313member
    Thank God one person remains at Apple who can fulfill the legacy of Steve Jobs. Because it sure ain't Tim Cook. Ives is now the soul of Apple.
  • Reply 11 of 104
    I would think these projects are his most important as the designs will be totally attributed to him and his team. I feel Jony and team have lived in Steve Jobs' shadow with much of the kudos for design going to Steve. With Steve, unfortunately, gone it gives the individuals who have done wonderful work over the years a chance to show that Apple was more than a one man show.

    This is by no means a criticism of Steve Jobs or Apple. Steve was just so charismatic he carried the show. Everyone else's turn now.
  • Reply 12 of 104
    zozmanzozman Posts: 391member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tune View Post


    applebraun.jpg


     


    iphoneadirectcopyoflgpr.png


     


     


     


     


     


     


    "We have always been SHAMELESS about stealing great ideas." - Steve Jobs


     



    Hahaha most of those are a serious stretch, radios that look like g5 towers, speakers look like iMacs....hahaha umm yeah

     

  • Reply 13 of 104
    euphoniouseuphonious Posts: 303member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tune View Post


     


     


    iphoneadirectcopyoflgpr.png


     


     



    So the iPhone vaguely resembles... shock horror... another touchscreen smartphone?!


     


    C'mon. How much differentiation do you expect there to be? It's a device that's 80% screen and has to have the speaker and buttons in specific places.

  • Reply 14 of 104
    pokepoke Posts: 506member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tune View Post


    applebraun.jpg


     



     


    Is this supposed to prove that Ive hasn't copied anything by putting his work next to objects that are nothing like them? If so, well done.

  • Reply 15 of 104
    nhtnht Posts: 4,228member

    Quote:


    Still, Ive might not be completely satisfied with Apple's output. When asked about skeuomorphic design features like fake leather texture and stitching in iOS and OS X, he visibly winced in way that the interviewer interpreted as a "gesture of sympathy."



    "My focus is very much working with the other teams on the product ideas and then developing the hardware and so that's our focus and that's our responsibility," Ive said. "In terms of those elements you're talking about, I'm not really connected to that."



     


    Interesting the contrast between Marko Ahtisaari (SVP Nokia Design) and Sir Ives (SVP Industrial Design).  Marko largely talks about UX and it seems under his bailiwick as SVP design there along with industrial design.  


     


    VP UI design at Apple is under Forstall?  Heck, after Sarah Brody left I have no idea who Apple's lead designers are.  I can name a dozen ex-Apple UX lead designers...


     

  • Reply 16 of 104
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    I'm amazed it took 9 posts before someone trotted out the Dieter Rams/Braun comparison. :lol:

    What was interesting in this interview was how ive seemed uncomfortable talking about the look of some of the software apps/icons. Obviously he has nothing to do with software but I got the feeling he's not crazy about some of th software design aesthetic - like fake leather and torn pages on th calendar app or a "wooden" bookshelf of the iBooks app. There certainly seems to be a dichotomy between Apple's hardware and software design aesthetic.
  • Reply 17 of 104
    quambquamb Posts: 143member


    Guys use some common sense (your brains) and stop feeding the troll. Check his post history out, it's kind of sad really, to think there's someone out there that dedicates a good portion of their time to post on a website for a company they don't even like in the first place... though maybe the truth is that he loves Apple in a far more deeper way we can ever imagine.

  • Reply 18 of 104
    conrailconrail Posts: 489member

    Quote:


    the projects he is currently working ...  feel like "the most important and the best work"



    Isn't this what rock bands who have been around for decades always say right before they release an album of self-indulgent, obtuse twaddle?

  • Reply 19 of 104
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    scotty321 wrote: »
    Thank God one person remains at Apple who can fulfill the legacy of Steve Jobs. Because it sure ain't Tim Cook. Ives is now the soul of Apple.

    This propagates a misleading concept.

    There is no Steve Jobs in the new Apple. There probably never will be.

    One of Steve's greatest successes was realizing that no one else could do what he did and he created an ORGANIZATION that embodied his beliefs and style. Ives brings design. Cook brings supply chain and general management. Schiller brings marketing. And so on. From the outside, the management team at Apple appears to work extremely well by corporate standards and so there's no need for one demigod to run the show.
  • Reply 20 of 104
    jousterjouster Posts: 460member
    rogifan wrote: »
    I'm amazed it took 9 posts before someone trotted out the Dieter Rams/Braun comparison. :lol:
    What was interesting in this interview was how ive seemed uncomfortable talking about the look of some of the software apps/icons. Obviously he has nothing to do with software but I got the feeling he's not crazy about some of th software design aesthetic - like fake leather and torn pages on th calendar app or a "wooden" bookshelf of the iBooks app. There certainly seems to be a dichotomy between Apple's hardware and software design aesthetic.

    I have no opinion on how much - if any - Apple's designs owe to Braun, but from various interviews I've seen or heard over the years, I think it's safe to say that Ive is an admirer of some of that work.

    I certainly would hope so, since the Braun stuff is gorgeous.
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