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Apple's Jony Ive opens up about Steve Jobs, packaging design and his obsession with cars

Apple's Jony Ive opens up about Steve Jobs, packaging design and his obsession with cars

The People Behind Apple
February 16, 2015

Jony Ive is arguably the second most important person at Apple, behind CEO Tim Cook. Therefore, when Cupertino’s senior vice president of design speaks, people listen.

The New Yorker recently spoke with Ive, who they call “Apple’s greatest product.” In a lengthy profile, the executive discusses his relationship with the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, his secretive design studio, and leaves a few nuggets about the Apple Watch, which is set to arrive in April.

Ive also discusses his love for cars, which might suggest that the so-called Apple iCar is more than a rumor. Among the excerpts:

On Jobs visiting Ive’s design studio:

That day, according to Ive, they started collaborating on what became the iMac. Soon afterward, Apple launched its “Think Different” campaign, and Ive took it as a reminder of the importance of “not being apologetic, not defining a way of being in response to what Dell just did.” He went on, “My intuition’s good, but my ability to articulate what I feel was not very good—and remains not very good, frustratingly. And that’s what’s hard, with Steve not being here now.” (At Jobs’s memorial, Ive called him “my closest and my most loyal friend.”)

On Ive and his team’s obsession with getting the packaging for Apple products just right:

(Apple designer Jody) Akana had proposed that an Ultrasuede cloth inside the box for a gold version of the Apple Watch should be an orangey-brown. Ive had objected with comic hyperbole, comparing it to the carpeting in a dismal student apartment. In the same amused spirit, Akana had then asked, “So you don’t like it?”

Jony Ive (Photo: Pari Dukovic)

Jony Ive (Photo: Pari Dukovic)

On the Apple Watch:

For the watch, it was a year before Ive settled on straps that clicked into slots. Ive later tested watchbands by wearing them outside the studio with other watches. The shape of the body, meanwhile, barely changed: a rectangle with rounded corners. “When a huge part of the function is lists”—of names, or appointments—“a circle doesn’t make any sense,” Ive said. Its final form resembles one of Newson’s watches, and the Cartier Santos, from 1904.

On his enthusiasm for cars:

“There are some shocking cars on the road,” Ive said. “One person’s car is another person’s scenery.” To his right was a silver sedan with a jutting lower lip. Ive said, quietly, “For example.” As the disgraced car fell behind, I asked Ive to critique its design: “It is baffling, isn’t it? It’s just nothing, isn’t it? It’s just insipid.” He declined to name the model, muttering, “I don’t know, I don’t want to offend.” (Toyota Echo.)

Ive joined Apple in 1992. He is the designer of many of Apple’s products, including the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iPod, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, Apple Watch, and iOS 7.

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