Jony Ive on Apple Watch alchemy and working with robots

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Marc Newson and Jony Ive Photo: Vanity Fair

Apple Watch might be the most controversial product Cupertino’s ever launched, but according to Jony Ive, Apple’s been on this path since the Jobs and Woz founded the company.

The Apple design boss and Marc Newson opened the inaugural Condé Nast International Luxury Conference today in Florence, Italy, to talk about their smartwatch that’s part fashion item, part tech gadget. Ive and Newson sat down with conference host Suzy Menkes and explained how they approached the development of Apple WAtch.

“We don’t look at the world through predetermined market opportunities,” said Ive. “What we’ve done fairly consistently is try to invest tremendous care in the development of our products.”

Here are the eight most important bits we learned about the Apple Watch’s development:

A wrist-worn computer has been Apple’s destiny since the ’70s.

“I think that we’re on a path that Apple was determined to be on since the Seventies, which was to try and make technology relevant and personal. If people struggle to use the technology then we have failed,” said Ive.

Just because Apple Watch is mass-produced doesn’t mean it’s not special.

“It’s not so much about things being touched personally – there are many ways to craft something,” said Jony. “It’s easy to assume that just because you make something in small volumes, not using many tools, that there is integrity and care – that is a false assumption.”

Robotic CNC mills are Jony and Marc’s tools.

“Machines for us are like tools for the craftsman,” Newson said. “We all use something – you can’t drill holes with your fingers. Whether it’s a knife, a needle or a machine, we all need the help of a device.”

But they still know how to make stuff with their hands.

“Both Jony and I love and appreciate the skill that it takes to put something together,” said Newson. “We’re not just designing in our heads and then on a computer. We both have the ability to understand certain materials; we come from a standpoint of being taught manually.”

Jony and Marc are mostly inspired by stuff they hate

“What inspired us enormously is what we didn’t like. We knew what irritated us – and as a designer you’re always inspired to work by what you’re unhappy with.”

They developed custom gold just because they loved the way it felt

“We both grew up making things ourselves, and I don’t think you can design in materials without understanding their exact attributes,” said Ive. “For the watch we developed our own gold because we loved how it felt. It’s that love of the material that drives so much of what we do.”

Apple Watch opens new possibilities for communication

With the watch it is the first time that we can assume someone has something intimately connected with them for most of the day – you can’t do that with the phone, so it opens up new ways of communication.”

You can’t compare old wristwatches to Apple Watch, so don’t.

“We all loved our watches, but saw that the wrist was a fabulous place for technology, so there were different motivations. I don’t know how we can compare the old watches we know, with the functionality and the capability of the Apple Watch.”

Source: Vogue