Sir Jony Ive hasn’t agreed to too many interviews during his time as Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design. But the London Evening Standard has managed to tie him down for a rare interview in which he talks about Apple’s design process, and why its competitors have the wrong goals.
Mark Prigg, Science and Technology Editor for the London Evening Standard, had the pleasure of speaking to Ive about his recent knighthood, the differences between London — where he was born — and Silicon Valley, Apple’s design process, and its competition.
Here are a few of the most interesting extracts from the interview:
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: How does a new product come about at Apple?
A: What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but then the next day there is an idea. Where you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation. But when you make a 3D model, however crude, you bring form to a nebulous idea and everything changes — the entire process shifts. It galvanises and brings focus from a broad group of people. It’s a remarkable process.
Q: What are your goals when setting out to build a new product?
A: Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.
Q: Why has Apple’s competition struggled to do that?
A: Most of our competitors are interested in doing something different, or want to appear new — I think those are completely the wrong goals. A product has to be genuinely better. This requires real discipline, and that’s what drives us — a sincere, genuine appetite to do something that is better.
Q: Users have become obsessively attached to Apple products. Why?
A: When I used a Mac I had a keen awareness of the values of those who made it. I think people’s emotional connection to our product is that they sense our care, and the amount of work that has gone into creating it.
The entire interview is a really fascinating read, especially if you’re interested in Apple and its iconic designs. I highly recommend you check it out.