Jony Ive is so design obsessed he sleeps on iPhone factory floors

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Apple Industrial Design Book
Apple’s chief design officer says secrecy is critical to creating great products.
Photo: YouTube

Jony Ive designs all iPhones, iPads, and Macs, and he says in a new interview that he’s a hands-on part of the creation process all the way through, not just a guy who makes sketches. Apple’s top designer also talks about his relationship with former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

“You can’t just design in abstract and then tell someone else to make it,” Mr. Ive told Vogue. “I’ve stayed for months in places where we make products. I don’t know how you can be an effective designer and not do that.”

When asked, Ive didn’t deny the rumors that he’d slept on factory floors before the launch of the original iPhone.

A reason for the secrecy

Apple is famously secretive about upcoming products. The designer of those devices says this is an important part of development. “One of the defining things about the nature of ideas is just how fragile they are. Part of protecting the idea is to be careful about who you show it to; premature criticism can shut something down that perhaps deserves more of a chance.”

Steve Jobs and Jony Ive

Mr. Ive worked closely for over a decade with with the late Steve Jobs. Ive clearly believes Apple’s co-founder was a brilliant designer. 

“There was an incredible liberty in the way he would think,” said Ive. “He wouldn’t obey rules that were perceived to be accepted wisdom, and he had an extraordinary optimism and enthusiasm.”

And Ive said Jobs had a gift for bringing out the best in other people. “Ultimately, Steve’s legacy is a set of values and, I think, the belief in trying. Often the quietest voices are the easiest to overlook, but he was brilliant at listening as well as leading and speaking,” Ive said.