Jony Ive thinks we're surrounded by 'anonymous, poorly made objects'

Jony Ive

Apple SVP of Design, Jony Ive, has given a pretty candid interview in which he makes a number of statements about design, and the products which fill our lives. It's a pretty lengthy interview, and the story unfolds in this past weekends Sunday Times:

"We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made."

Apple's design and product construction has been one of its strongest points for many a year. We only have to take a glance at some of the current products, like the iPad Air, the iPhone 5s and the MacBook range to see Ive's point in its best light. We do care. When we're paying a substantial amount of money for a product, why wouldn't we want it to look and feel fantastic and be constructed from premium materials?

Contrast this with a number of competitor products in the tablet, smartphone and laptop space. There's a lot of plastic, a lot of generic design. Sadly the interview is behind a paywall, but if you can get your hands on it, I urge you to do so. It's not often we hear from Apple's senior staff in such detail, and this is well worth a read. What do you think to his comments, though? Right on the money, or a little too far?

Source: The Sunday Times

Richard Devine

Senior Editor at iMore, part time racing driver, full time British guy

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There are 25 comments. Add yours.

Easy-G says:

Too far. Comments like this that reflect a flagrant superiority complex are one of the main reasons I dislike Apple culture.

cc3d says:

I agree. Many hardcore Apple fans I know are very into the 'help the less fortunate' circles as well. Then they agree with an elitist attitude that Ive exudes. Society needs the cheep crap too. You can't lift third world countries or people of limited means with products that are marked up like Apples. It's this contradiction and hypocrisy I see in hardcore Apple fans most of the time!

rockerchick says:

Having good design is not elitist. When we tell our kids to pay attention to detail and do their best at whatever they do, give it complete attention and full effort is that not saying don't put out crappy work?

Good design doesn't have to be extremely expensive, it is about putting care into every detail of your work. I personally like aesthetically pleasing items too. That's one of the things I love about iPhones. I love the way it looks and feels in my hand. I am very tactile and somewhat visual.
I've bought things just because I like the way it looks. I am not a car person but there is one car that revs my engine because it just looks f*cking sexy. It's not elite to want beautiful objects in the world that we spend so much time in. I understand his sentiment.

Illustrator Joe says:

But it is elitist by definition for thinking your product/design is better than all the competition when it is not. That is how Ive comes across.

hoonaynay says:

Where did you source this definition from? I don't recall the definition having a personal opinion ("when it is not") included in it. It is elitist when you believe that X is better than the rest. It is personal opinion and conjecture to say that X is not better. Why would any business ever publicly admit to being inferior to its competitors? Jony Ive comes across as a businessman because he is a businessman.

Illustrator Joe says:

"That is how Ive comes across."
That is my opinion and the opinion of many others. He is a better businessman than designer in my opinion.

extol4000 says:

Well said. Apple truly care about quality, form, function & make lives better. It's apparent in their work. Their love, care & time taken in the production of their products has proven successful & appreciated (through customers & plagiarists alike).

ralphtweety says:

Then I guess none of us has anything to complain about, we have it both ways.

bobbob1016 says:

His comment contradicts itself...

If people cared about what Apple calls design, why would they buy other phones? I think that design can follow function. Design could also mean it has cables that work with other devices. The Nexus 5, and HTC One are imho as good looking as a 5S, or even better.

Basically what this means is that some people like his designs, and others don't. For an ego like Apple's, it's next to impossible to get this though, he's coming to grips with it, gradually.

sectime says:

That is a recurring theme in cults. Members are totally surprised that you don't agree with them and want to help you see the light.

Anthony_Burk says:

I completely agree with him. If I'm going to spend hundreds of dollars on something, it had better be well designed and built with premium materials.

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Illustrator Joe says:

I dislike this guy a little bit more each time I hear him speak.

Djbeat123 says:

It would be nice if some products were cheaper... Then, I could buy a product and accessories to amount to their current price. :)

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JC Thomas says:

I've owned many of different products. Every apple product I've owned from the iphone, to ipad to a macbook....their quality has always impressed me....I do wish they were a little cheaper, though.

The Jimmy James says:

You should eBay up an SE/30 or Color Classic and see the same attention to design and high quality in an earlier form.

uwatto says:

Love him or hate him, the man is spot on.

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Antagunist says:

I have to agree with him - even if on any given day I may not always be able to afford one of their products.

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spackmanstephen says:

Sorry Johnny, but my Moto G is great.

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The Jimmy James says:

Their quality has always been high except where it wasn't.

Apple ///? Power Mac/Performa x200/x300? LC & LC2? Radeon graphics iBook G3?

They've squeezed off a few really stanky deuces in the past decades. Since Ive has been elevated to his position of importance, it seems such failures have been eliminated, or at least mostly mitigated. He may not be a hardware engineer, but it seems like more than coincidence that after he started to become important enough that Steve started giving him credit for his work, that the stinkers stopped coming.

Angel Zhang says:

Apple´s designs are great, he is right in that point. But to say that they are the ONLY ones making good designs, is a little over stated.

Becjr says:

I really, really, really want to live on Elysium too!
(Truthfully, too many things are made to cheaply just so somebody can make a quick buck.)

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Trappiste says:

Elitism at its worst. And very typical of Apple users. People buy an overpriced phone and think themselves better. Must be our time.

karmski says:

Jony Ive's view is not new; it has been the view of exceptional designers for centuries:

"If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." William Morris

Personally, I would rather one beautiful object that brought me pleasure every time I used or looked at it, than quantities of those that are ugly or poorly manufactured.

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