Jony Ive & his design team esteemed as Apple's heart & soul in sweeping profile

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2015
Apple design chief Jony Ive's transformation into the new face of the company continued this week with a flattering, far-reaching profile that considers him "one of the two most powerful people" at Apple and a reluctant standard bearer for Steve Jobs's legacy.


Ive, photographed for The New Yorker.


Writing for The New Yorker, Ian Parker paints a picture of Ive and his compatriots as a tight-knit group that somewhat hesitantly carries Apple's future success -- or failure --?on their shoulders. One former member of the company's design team said that having one of the core team of 19 designers attend a meeting is "like being in church when the priest walks in."

The bar is reportedly set so high that the design group employs a team of three dedicated recruiters who may find just one designer good enough to work in the studio each year. Only two of Ive's employees have ever left.

Ive himself is classed as a modest leader, and one who is simultaneously uncomfortable and unflappable on the throne --?thankful for having been excused from public performances by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, but not hesitant to voice his opinions. In one humorous example, he shot down an idea for the color of a microfiber cleaning cloth included with the Apple Watch Edition by comparing it to the carpet that might be included in a cheap apartment.

"Jony's an artist with an artist's temperament, and he'd be the first to tell you artists aren't supposed to be responsible for this kind of thing," Jobs's widow Laurene Powell Jobs said.

Ive's predecessor, Robert Brunner, believes that "Jony has assumed the creative soul of the company." Some say Ive seems "burdened" by that role.
"Jony has assumed the creative soul of the company," former Apple design czar Robert Brunner believes.
"He's got no choice, the poor guy. He really has to see it out, and I know it wasn't his plan. Which is not to say he's not enjoying it," Ive's friend Clive Grinyer said.

Apple operations head Jeff Williams described the forthcoming Apple Watch, on which the company's cachet and stock price --?if not its survival -- depends, as a product owned by Ive more than any other. One notable example of his contributions is said to be the Watch's distinctive digital crown, which did not exist in engineering prototypes and was added by the design team.

The Watch is an example of Ive and his group's fanatical attention to detail and utter disdain for things that are badly designed. Ive and collaborator Marc Newson can "incite ourselves to a sort of fever pitch" on the subject, Ive said, especially things "developed to a schedule, to a cost" or "developed to be different, not better."

Of a Toyota Echo, Ive said "It is baffling, isn't it? It's just nothing, isn't it? It's just insipid."

Alongside the in-depth interviews with Ive, Parker secured some unusually candid answers from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Of the company's decision to increase the iPhone's display size, Cook said that "Jony didn't pull out of his butt the 4.7 and the 5.5." Those choices reportedly resulted from months of testing prototypes with display sizes at every tenth of an inch, with the largest well above 6 inches diagonally.

Speaking about Apple's new Beats unit, Cook was blunt: "Would Jony have designed some of the products? Obviously, you can look at them and say no."

Cook plans to allow Beats to "be true to who they are," however. "I don't want to wave the wand over them in a day and say, 'You are now Apple.' Down the road, we'll see what happens," he added.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 70
    I liked him better when he was invisible.
  • Reply 2 of 70
    The strange single quote about a "Toyota Echo".. what does this mean? Out of context it is baffling.
  • Reply 3 of 70
    A nice, lengthy article. I loved the slams of Toyota, who really don't have a good grasp of taste. They make wheeled washing machines.

    I think Jony may not be around long after Campus 2 is completed. It's hard to say, but that's the impression I got.
  • Reply 4 of 70
    The strange single quote about a "Toyota Echo".. what does this mean? Out of context it is baffling.

    He waas talking about how poorly designed it was, and they do look atrocious.
  • Reply 5 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Very lengthy profile with quotes from Tim Cook and others. I assume this had to be signed off by Cook?

    Well worth it to read the entire article and not just snippets from other websites. I wasn't aware that Ive was involved in the new campus but this profile seems to suggest he's very involved, even that it was his suggestion to use Norman Foster (who is also redesigning Ive's house in SF).
  • Reply 6 of 70
    A nice, lengthy article. I loved the slams of Toyota, who really don't have a good grasp of taste. They make wheeled washing machines.

    I think Jony may not be around long after Campus 2 is completed. It's hard to say, but that's the impression I got.

    I haven't read the article yet, but it must be very difficult having the future of Apple on your shoulders as an industrial designer. Jobs was the chief visionary AND the one who got to say "no" a million times before saing "yes". Unless someone can definitively point to a single person at Apple who fills this void, I have to assume that unique role is still vacant.
  • Reply 7 of 70
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    A nice, lengthy article. I loved the slams of Toyota, who really don't have a good grasp of taste. They make wheeled washing machines.

    I think Jony may not be around long after Campus 2 is completed. It's hard to say, but that's the impression I got.

    Certainly sounds like someone burned out. Though I would imagine you could say that about lots of employees at Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 70
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,503member
    I liked him better when he was invisible.

    Maybe you should lead by example then.. Bye bye....
  • Reply 9 of 70
    .
    I haven't read the article yet, but it must be very difficult having the future of Apple on your shoulders as an industrial designer. Jobs was the chief visionary AND the one who got to say "no" a million times before saing "yes". Unless someone can definitively point to a single person at Apple who fills this void, I have to assume that unique role is still vacant.

    I thought then, and still think that Newson is part of filling that void. But, my main thinking was how sad he seemed regarding the new building. I think that was his and Steve's baby, and if the building just reminds him of that time all the time...well, it'd get boring going into work depressed every day.
  • Reply 10 of 70
    irelandireland Posts: 17,552member
    Note all times criticism of car design pops up in said piece. From Ive to Jobs. Interesting.
  • Reply 11 of 70
    ireland wrote: »
    Note all times criticism of car design pops up in said piece. From Ive to Jobs. Interesting.

    I've found that people tend to frame their comments around what subjects most occupy their mind.
  • Reply 12 of 70

    He waas talking about how poorly designed it was, and they do look atrocious.
    Hardly
  • Reply 13 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post





    Hardly



    Right.

     

     

    That's an atrocity of design in general, not just automotive design. It's hideous.

  • Reply 14 of 70
    And considering how hideous the flatter look of both iOS (and now) OS X are I'm not so sure I'd be casting stones if I were Ive
  • Reply 16 of 70
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Why all the doom and gloom?

    This was a cool article and I didn't read anything about him wanting to leave.
    sflocal wrote: »
    Maybe you should lead by example then.. Bye bye....

    Funny I didn't see that guys post.
  • Reply 17 of 70
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Lord Amhran View Post



    And considering how hideous the flatter look of both iOS (and now) OS X are I'm not so sure I'd be casting stones if I were Ive



    iOS is a matter of personal taste. There is no one with any taste who likes the Toyota Echo. I don't even think tasteless people like it.

  • Reply 18 of 70

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post



    Note all times criticism of car design pops up in said piece. From Ive to Jobs. Interesting.

     

    That IS interesting. Historically, Apple tends to criticize that which they are working on a solution for.

     

    No, I don't believe for a minute that Apple is "making a car". But I do believe they could be working on a better driver experience/UX for a car. Apple has already shared as much with Apple CarPlay. I suspect the work on this product lead to thoughts of "Hey, we can do even more here."

  • Reply 19 of 70
    iOS is a matter of personal taste. There is no one with any taste who likes the Toyota Echo. I don't even think tasteless people like it.
    'll give you that. The Echo does look like shit. The Avalon & Tacoma (of which I own both) are fairly nice looking.
  • Reply 20 of 70
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,116member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleinsiderFrm View Post



    I liked him better when he was invisible.

     

    Some of us actually feel extreme privilege at being able to read his quotes, insight, and opinions. I feel I've learned something, and have been inspired by every single one of this appearances and interviews, as every word he says has meaning and deep, deep insight. It's sad that you you hold the man in such little regard, that you feel offended by his words or by the fact that you can notice his existence. Maybe try to appreicate the fact that once in a while, you can get a taste of the mind of the greatest designer on the planet, and the person who has designed pretty much every single Apple product. Seriously, your comment is pretty crass. 

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