April 25, 2019

Ease and simplicity of use are achieved by obsessing with details that are often overlooked.

There is no question that design drives Apple, but who makes the magic happen in Cupertino, heading design itself, is Sir Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive, one of the two most important people – the other being CEO Tom Cook – at the world’s most valuable company.

Born in 1967 in London, Jonathan Ive studied art and design at Newcastle Polytechnic, and co-founded Tangerine right after graduating.

The design consultancy counted Apple among its clients, and the American company offered him a full-time position few years later, after seeing his sketch for a proto-iPad, a tablet Mac called the Macintosh Folio, with a stylus and adjustable screen –  but it was only after Jobs returned as CEO of the company in 1997 that the real impact of his creativity began to be felt.

Jonathan Ive

His whole work has been influenced by the Bauhaus design tradition and principles, a functionality and minimalism that reflects Jonathan Ive’s very sense of style and public appearance.

Known for his nearly shaved head and trimmed beard, his voice has been noted for its Essex accent and loquacious speech and used in Apple’s promotional videos since 1994.

Enchanted by the creative process, Ive loves the surprise and the unexpected, the dichotomy between curiosity and problem solving and the result of moving back and forth between the two poles on a daily basis.

Jonathan Ive - iMac 1998
iMac 1998

Ease and simplicity of use are achieved by obsessing with details that are often overlooked.

It came from Steve Jobs, who pushed his creatives and engineers to consider that it isn’t the device the customer wants – it is the experience, the service.

It takes a great deal of work to create something easy to use, and according to Jonathan Ive there are nine rejected ideas for every idea that works – ‘different and new is relatively easy. Doing something that’s genuinely better is very hard’.

The iMac, his first huge success, debuted in 1998 seducing more than two million clients that year, with an alluring rounded exterior in translucent candy colors.

Jonathan Ive - iBook G3, 1999
iBook G3, 1999

All of Ive’s successive designs reflect his effort to maximize efficiency and comfort for the user – as he said, ‘there is beauty when something works and it works intuitively‘.

The  iPod (2001), a portable media player soon becoming a line of multi-purpose pocket computers, the iPhone (2007) and the iPad (2010) are considered revolutionary objects attracting customers of all ages, thanks to a  simple user interface built around a multi-touch screen that includes a virtual keyboard.

Jonathan Ive - iPod, 2001
iPod, 2001

Making money is the direct consequence of making the best product you can, and aesthetics does count a lot.

Ive is the one who pushed Apple to embrace white products, even if Jobs was initially against it, and firmly believe in making their potent phenomenal technology smaller, better, more reliable.

Jonathan Ive - iMac G4, 2002
iMac G4, 2002

Jonathan Ive is one of the world’s best paid designers.

In 2006 he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Knight Commander in 2012.

With a passion for fast cars, in the early 2000s Ive bought an Aston Martin DB9 and one month later got into a car accident with a member of his design team, nearly killing them both.

As a consequence to the event, Apple gave him a big pay raise, thanking destiny for another chance with an irreplaceable talent.

Jonathan Ive - iPhone, 2007
iPhone, 2007
Jonathan Ive - MacBook Air, 2008
MacBook Air, 2008
Jonathan Ive - iPad, 2010
iPad, 2010
Jonathan Ive - iOS 7, 2013
iOS 7, 2013
Jonathan Ive - Apple Watch, 2014
Apple Watch, 2014