On Monday, Time posted a long interview with Apple’s Head of Design, Jony Ive. This interview, conducted by John Arlidge, is an incredible look into the normally reserved designer, and the incredibly secretive company: “For years, Ive’s natural shyness, coupled with the secrecy bordering on paranoia of his employer, Apple, has meant we have known little about the man who shapes the future.”1 There were some very interesting insights from Ive in the long interview, much too many to cover entirely. Here are some of the highlights.
Although Ive pushed back on the topic of his former boss, Steve Jobs, he kept coming up. Ive noted it “odd and tough to talk about him, because it doesn’t feel that long ago that he died.” That said, Ive made many interesting comments of Jobs:
When speaking of their relationship, and commonalities, Ive noted that he and Jobs were quite similar in their attention to detail:
Steve and I spent months and months working on a part of a product that, often, nobody would ever see, nor realize was there…It didn’t make any difference functionally. We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure.
Further, Ive noted that although Jobs had a reputation for being a bit harsh and intense, the two shared the eye for great design:
When we were looking at objects, what our eyes physically saw and what we came to perceive were exactly the same. And we would ask the same questions, have the same curiosity about things.
Finally, Ive spoke about the reputation that has become attached to Jobs. The idea that he was a hard man to work for:
So much has been written about Steve, and I don’t recognize my friend in much of it. Yes, he had a surgically precise opinion. Yes, it could sting. Yes, he constantly questioned. ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’ but he was so clever. His ideas were bold and magnificent. They could suck the air from the room. And when the ideas didn’t come, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great. And, oh, the joy of getting there!
On Work and Apple
When asked what he considered his greatest achievement at Apple, Ive expressed that it was more of an idea, the idea of Apple products than any one in particular:
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. We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things. our success is a victory for purity, integrity — for giving a damn.
Ive also noted that this idea, in the above answer, is what draws people to Apple products, more than the product itself:
What people are responding to is much bigger than the object. They are responding to something rare — a group of people who do more than simply make something work, they make the very best products they possibly can. It’s a demonstration against thoughtlessness and carelessness.
Finally, Arlidge asked Ive about the belief that some in the technology sector have about Apple. The belief “that by creating so many extraordinary products in such a short time, it has run out of things to invent.” Arlidge asked Ive if he beleived that this were true, would he quit?
Yes. I’d stop. I’d make things for myself, for my friends at home instead. The bar needs to be high…I don’t think that will happen. We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what it will enable us to do in future, we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new.
This was truly an incredible look into the normally reserved and private Ive. There is a level of humility and pride that Ive displays in his work that is truly remarkable. It is well worth it to read the entire Time interview.