Jony Ive is the Senior VP of industrial design at Apple. In other words, he’s the creative mastermind behind your favorite Apple technologies like the PowerBook G4, iMac, Macbook line, and iOS devices. But what he’s not, however, is the interviewing type. In fact, you could probably count the number of interviews he’s taken part in on two hands (or maybe even one). However, the London Evening Standard was able to get him to take part in a short Q&A. In it, he delves into the workflow at Apple, how they “innovate” instead of update, and their design process.
These were the questions and responses we found interesting. Of course, we had to include his recent knighthood.
Q: You recently received a Knighthood for services to design – was that a proud moment?
A: I was absolutely thrilled, and at the same time completely humbled. I am very aware that I’m the product of growing up in England, and the tradition of designing and making, of England industrialising first. The emphasis and value on ideas and original thinking is an innate part of British culture, and in many ways, that describes the traditions of design.
Q: What makes design different at Apple?
A: We struggle with the right words to describe the design process at Apple, but it is very much about designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those, I think the final result suffers. If something is going to be better, it is new, and if it’s new you are confronting problems and challenges you don’t have references for. To solve and address those requires a remarkable focus. There’s a sense of being inquisitive and optimistic, and you don’t see those in combination very often.
Q: What are the biggest challenges in constantly innovating?
A: For as long as we’ve been doing this, I am still surprised how difficult it is to do this, but you know exactly when you’re there – it can be the smallest shift, and suddenly transforms the object, without any contrivance.
Some of the problem solving in the iPad is really quite remarkable, there is this danger you want to communicate this to people. I think that is a fantastic irony, how oblivious people are to the acrobatics we’ve performed to solve a problem – but that’s our job, and I think people know there is tremendous care behind the finished product.
It’s clear that since its foundation, Apple has taken great pride in the aesthetic appeal of its products, and the awesome team behind each and every one of them.