Jonathan Ive opens up about the Apple Watch, Steve Jobs and more
In a rare interview with The New Yorker
The New Yorker magazine, pinned down Apple's Jonathan Ive, and shone the spotlight on the designer who usually prefers to work in the shadows. The second most important man in the world's most powerful company, 'Jony' to his friends, but formally he is – Sir Jonathan Ive – since he became a Knight of Her Majesty's realm in 2012. He is the Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, and we've all seen and used his iconic designs from the iMac to the iPhone and everything in between, but why do we know so little about the man himself, in a company that revels in big revels, team-made infomercials and evangelical conferences?
The British born Ive, now in his late forties, has been a resident of California since the age of 25, when he moved from his native Briton to work for the then, small tech company, but he retains the ever-so English introverted shyness, that simply does not afflict his Californian colleagues.
Having been granted indefinite leave to forego the public speaking duties that would normally accompany his position, by his "closest and my most loyal friend" – the late Steve Jobs, Ive asserts that focussing on the design work itself, is the best way to express his love for the job and his dedication to the process.
Evidently more comfortable focussing on the design task at hand than tuning into the burden of reality that is extraordinary and "preposterous" position of influence. He would rather not dwell on the impact that his health, decisions and career path could have on the world's most powerful company. To use Ian Parker's sums; a ten-percent drop in Apple's valuation represents seventy-one billion dollars, an easy dip to shareholders that one nervous move from Ive could trigger.
Describing what Apple does in a succinct summation as "efficient" is a no brainer for Ive, and we hope this could not be more true of the eagerly awaited Apple Watch (the gravity of the press and public frenzied reveals of Apple products is not lost on Ive and is no doubt a contributing factor to his anxious disposition)
The goal, Ive said, was to create "the strangely familiar."
Ive opened up to The New Yorker magazine about how the design for the Apple Watch came about:
"One afternoon in the studio, Ive sketched the Apple Watch as seen from the side, with the crown asymmetrical on two axes: nearer the top of the watch than the bottom, and nearer the face than the back (there is also a more flush secondary button). As an afterthought, he quickly drew the front of an iPod: a rectangle within a rectangle, and a circle within a circle. He pointed at the watch drawing. "It's not for us to say if things are iconic," he said, and then described it as a "very, very iconic view." Ive explained that, had he centered the Digital Crown, the watch would be a quite different product. "It's just literal. And you could say, 'Why is that an issue?' Well, if it's literally referencing what's happened in the past, the information about what it does is then wrong." The crown rotates, which is reassuring, but it doesn't wind the watch or adjust hands. The goal, Ive said, was to create "the strangely familiar."
Tic-toc, April approaches, and the world is on tenterhooks in anticipation of the Apple Watch release, but don't expect to see Ive doing cartwheels on stage on release day, you'll find him taking sanctuary in the design studio, working on the next big thing...