Jonathan Ive is an incredible designer. His influence as Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple can be seen on every recent product the company has made, including the iPod, iPhone and Macs. Ive recently did an interview in L’uomo Vogue, a print publication in Italy, giving us a rare glimpse into his design philosophy.
“The way we approach design is by trying to achieve the most with the very least,” said Ive. “We are absolutely consumed by trying to develop a solution that is very simple because as physical beings we understand clarity, we’re comfortable with clarity.”
That philosophy can certainly be seen in some of Apple’s most popular products. Take the iPhone as an example. While many of its competitors plaster the front of their devices with buttons and controls, the iPhone has one button. There are several things you can do with it, but still, there is one button.
Ive said that they did have to go back to the drawing board once with a design for a new iMac (He didn’t specify which model). Ive said his team realized just as the machine was on its way to tooling that they didn’t like the design as much as they thought.
“It takes a lot of courage to stop a production line,” said Ive. “It’s never an easy decision.”
Ive also feels that designers need to be more in touch with the materials they are using instead of just sitting in front of a computer making arbitrary changes without seeing how it affects the product. As an example, he said when Apple decided to work with aluminum several people from the design team spent a lot of time in Japan with artisans who worked with the metal.
“We don’t feel we can start designing until we really understand the material and the technology necessary to process it,” said Ive.
Ive holds a Bachelor of Arts and an honorary doctorate from Newcastle Polytechnic. In 2003 he was named Designer of the Year by the Design Museum London and awarded the title Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts.