Apple's Jony Ive speaks about Apple product design and the competition
Apple’s lead designer Jony Ive is often viewed as one of the driving forces behind Cupertino after the passing of Steve Jobs. After all, Apple is known for its no-compromise product design and Ive has been heading the design department for a while. British-born Ive is known for rarely speaking up in public and that’s why this detailed interview about the way Apple devices are born is of particular interest.
In it, Evening Standard’s Mark Prigg, asks Ive about both the internal process of making an idea into a product and - of course - about the competition. In a nutshell, hard work and sound ideas are what Apple’s designer sees at the core of the tremendous success of Cupertino. Check out part of the Q&A below and jump to the source link below for the whole thing. Do you agree with what Ive says, or do you think there are other companies that can offer a similar all-in-one functionality and looks package? Chime in with opinions below.
Jony Ive on what makes design different at Apple:
We struggle with the right words to describe the design process at Apple but it is very much about designing and prototyping and making. When you separate those, I think the final result suffers. If something is going to be better, it is new, and if it’s new you are confronting problems and challenges you don’t have references for. To solve and address those requires a remarkable focus. There’s a sense of being inquisitive and optimistic, and you don’t see those in combination very often.
Ive on how products shape up at Apple:
What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but then the next day there is an idea. Where you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation. But when you make a 3D model, however crude, you bring form to a nebulous idea and everything changes — the entire process shifts. It galvanises and brings focus from a broad group of people. It’s a remarkable process.
Ive on Apple’s goals with products:
Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.
Jony Ive on why has Apple’s competition struggled to make great products:
Most of our competitors are interested in doing something different, or want to appear new — I think those are completely the wrong goals. A product has to be genuinely better. This requires real discipline, and that’s what drives us — a sincere, genuine appetite to do something that is better.
Jony Ive on trying to solve a problem in product ideas:
There are different approaches — sometimes things can irritate you so you become aware of a problem, which is a very pragmatic approach and the least challenging. What is more difficult is when you are intrigued by an opportunity. That,
I think, really exercises the skills of a designer. It’s not a problem you’re aware of, nobody has articulated a need. But you start asking questions: what if we do this, combine it with that, would that be useful? This creates opportunities that could replace entire categories of device rather than tactically responding to an individual problem. That’s the real challenge and very exciting.
Jony Ive on how does he know if he’s succeeded:
One of the things that really irritates me in products is when I’m aware of designers wagging their tails in my face. Our goal is to create simple objects, objects that you can’t imagine any other way. Get it right and you become closer and more focused on the object. For instance, the iPhoto app we created for the new iPad completely consumes you and you forget you are using an iPad.
Jony Ive on whether consumers really care about good design:
Consumers are incredibly discerning, they sense where there has been great care in the design, and when there is cynicism and greed. We’ve found that really encouraging.
Jony Ive on why users have become obsessively attached to Apple products:
When I used a Mac I had a keen awareness of the values of those who made it. I think people’s emotional connection to our product is that they sense our care, and the amount of work that has gone into creating it.