Apollo program inspired Jony Ive to make a ‘spacesuit’

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What would a Jony Ive spacesuit look like? Photo: Sotheby's
What would a Jony Ive spacesuit look like? Photo: Sotheby's

When you’ve designed some of the most successful consumer electronics in modern history, where else can you look but up?

One of the many interesting tidbits in The New Yorker’s 17,000-word profile of Jony Ive surrounds his fascination with the Apollo space program and, yes, designing spacesuits. It doesn’t sound like the spacesuit itself was what inspired Apple’s top designer as much as the process that went into it.

Ive mentions he’s been watching the old Discovery channel series Moon Machine about the challenges facing the Apollo program. NASA designers had no idea what goals they even needed to meet for the suit, but built up to the final design with invention after invention until they got it right.

An anecdote from The New Yorker’s time in Ive’s hallowed design studio (emphasis added):

Back in the main room, Ive noted that he’d been watching “Moon Machines,” an old Discovery Channel series about the Apollo program. “There was the realization we needed to develop a spacesuit, but it was hard to even know what the goals should be,” he said. And then he linked the studio’s work to NASA’s: like the Apollo program, the creation of Apple products required “invention after invention after invention that you would never be conscious of, but that was necessary to do something that was new.

Here’s the clip from Moon Machines Ive is talking about.

The shared ideological connection Ive could make with Apple and NASA is a bit of a stretch, but understandable. But coming to the “realization we needed to develop a spacesuit?” WTF?

OK, Apple is obviously not getting into space exploration anytime soon. Ive is talking about how it takes tons of innovative steps to make something that’s truly revolutionary and unthinkable. That kind of thinking will certainly come in handy when it comes to making an Apple car.