Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, Jony Ive, has been interviewed by The Sunday Times Magazine in the UK. It’s a five-page, in-depth piece looking at the man himself and his famed career at Apple. The newspaper traveled to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California to meet with Ive on his 47th birthday. Here are our favorite quotes, snippets and factoids from the resulting conversation.
He’s not a show-off
Ive owns one house in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco, avoids publicity, and “hates fuss and relishes simplicity.” Something which shines through in the products he designs. He’s a car fan who owns a few Bentleys and a “1960s Aston Martin DB4 in a silvery blue.” The rumored Apple iWatch didn’t adorn his wrist during the interview, and he instead wore a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch which he designed himself. There are only three in the world.
Unsurprisingly, he’s an Apple fanboy
When he was a student, he apparently considered himself “technically inept” after trying and failing to work computers. He then discovered Apple’s hardware, and said the “intuitive mouse-driven system suddenly made it all seem so simple.”
Ive says he’s a maker, not a designer
“There is a resurgence in the idea of craft,” Ive told the interviewer. “I want to know what things are for, how they work, what they can or should be made of, before I even begin to think what they should look like.” As a child, Ive says he was obsessed with taking things apart and putting them back together again. It apparently hasn’t abated. Ive says he did the same thing to his iPhone, just to show he hadn’t lost the skill. It’s this creativity and “love of making” which brought Ive and Steve Jobs together.
Only a select few can enter his top secret office
Ive’s corner of 1 Infinite Loop is separated from the other offices by opaque sheets of glass, so no-one outside can peek in and get a glimpse of all the top-secret toys Ive may leave on his desk. Think we’re joking about the toys? Ive admits it, saying “It’s the one place you can go and see everything we’re working on. All the designs, all the prototypes.” Only Ive’s “core team and top Apple executives” can go inside.
He’s a perfectionist, and Steve Jobs couldn’t choose a hotel
It’s a bit of a “duh” one, but guess what, Jony Ive is a perfectionist. He spent many months perfecting the iMac’s desktop stand, and once a product or piece has been finished, he’s “haunted by the idea: Could I have done better?” It’s an affliction designers (hold on, shouldn’t that be “Makers” Jony?) are cursed with” he says.
The late Steve Jobs and he were clearly a customer service nightmare. Ive recalls his travels with Jobs, where upon reaching their hotel, he wouldn’t unpack but would sit and wait for an apparently inevitable phone call from Steve, saying “Hey Jony, this hotel sucks. Let’s go.”
He’s not a fan of the competition
“We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects,” he says, and adds that the people who make them “don’t care.” Apple, he says, is different, and he’s rightly proud of his work there. “We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things,” he says. He ruins it by being a bit of a luvvie, adding, “Our success is a victory for purity, integrity – for giving a damn.”
Copying is theft
When asked about Apple’s designs being copied by others, Ive calls it theft. “What’s copied isn’t just about a design, it’s thousands and thousands of hours of struggle,” adding that those products which are worth pursuing take “years of investment, years of pain” to perfect.
The best is yet to come from Apple
Ive will be our barometer for when (or if) Apple entirely loses its mojo. He says he’d quit and make things for himself and friends at home, should Apple no longer “push the envelope.” He closes in typically understated fashion, saying “I hope so,” in response to the question of whether the best of Apple, and Ive, is still to come.