Jonathan Ive says Apple's designs are inevitable, and his best and most important is yet to come
Jonathan Ive, known as Jony, is Apple's Senior Vice President of Design and the man responsible for turning Steve Jobs' iMac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad into real, physical objects with just exactly the right feel, in perfectly the right color. And when asked in a two-part interview with The Telegraph which Apple design he'd most liked to be remembered for, he says we haven't seen it yet.
“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.”
Apple is famous for its secrecy about future products. I ask what will happen if the Queen asks about the new iPhone today. Will he have to say, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, we don’t comment on forthcoming products”?
“That would be funny,” he laughs.
But I notice he doesn’t say no.
Ive is in England to receive his knighthood for services to design and enterprise.
Born in Chingford, Essex in 1967 to a furniture and silverware maker who helped inspire Ive's attention to detail, after studying at Newcastle Polytechnic he ended up at Apple just prior to Steve Jobs' return, and became head of design at Apple shortly after Jobs' return. The rest, very literally, is history.
“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 explains. “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.
“I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.”
Ive also repeats his belief that design shouldn't be obvious, that a designer should sweat and fret the details, figure out the complex problems, and present the end user only with the simplicity and elegance of the solution.
Interestingly, when asked about the visual complexity of skeuomorphism in software -- the stitched leather in Calendar specifically -- Ive claims his areas of responsibility are not connected to to those elements.
Both parts of the interview are worth a read.