Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, swapped sunny Cupertino for London today to receive his knighthood from Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace. The 45-year-old Brit, who is responsible for the iconic designs behind Apple’s computers and iOS devices, said he is “both humbled and sincerely grateful” for the “absolutely thrilling honor.”
While in the capital, Ive also gave what is likely his most revealing interview yet to British broadsheet The Telegraph, in which he talks about Apple’s design and its focus on simplicity, Steve Jobs, and the company’s current projects.
Our [Apple's] goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you’re not aware really of the solution, you’re not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved. [...]
Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.
The quest for simplicity has to pervade every part of the process. It really is fundamental.
While Apple has had the its share of unsuccessful products throughout the years, the majority of those that aren’t good enough stay within the confines of Cupertino. Ive says that shelving these projects, often at their “mature stage,” can be very difficult:
And there have been times when we’ve been working on a program and when we are at a very mature stage and we do have solutions and you have that sinking feeling because you’re trying to articulate the values to yourself and to others just a little bit too loudly. And you have that sinking feeling that the fact that you are having to articulate the value and persuade other people is probably indicative of the fact that actually it’s not good enough. On a number of occasions we’ve actually all been honest with ourselves and said ‘you know, this isn’t good enough, we need to stop’. And that’s very difficult.
Ive believes Apple is now working on the most important and best work its ever done, and he finds it difficult to pinpoint one design he’s particularly proud of:
It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.
Ive’s interview concludes with a few comments about Apple’s co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who passed away last October, and he dismisses any fears that Apple may decline without Jobs at the helm:
We’re developing products in exactly the same way that we were two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. It’s not that there are a few of us working in the same way: there is a large group of us working in the same way.
Ive, who has been with Apple since 1992, worked very closely with Jobs, and was referred to as his “spiritual partner.” It is said that Jobs left Ive with just as much power as the company’s new CEO, Tim Cook.
The Telegraph’s entire interview, which also talks about Ive’s design education and his thoughts on British design, is a fascinating read, and I recommend you take a look if you’re interested in Ive or Apple. You can also watch Ive receive his knighthood at Buckingham Palace using the link to BBC News below.