The design of Apple products like the iPhone, iPad and iMac is unmistakable. Behind it is Jonathan Ive, who has worked for the tech giant since 1992 and has been its chief designer since the early 2000s. Ive is not only responsible for the hardware, but also for the operating systems macOS and iOS. Ive’s way of working follows the principle “Form follows function”, which can be clearly seen in the products he designs. He spends a lot of time analyzing what is really important about a device. That’s why Apple products are considered particularly user-friendly and intuitive.
Jonathan Ive was born in London on 27 February 1967. His grandfather was an engineer, his father a goldsmith. Every Christmas Ive received a special gift: He was allowed to use his father’s workshop for one day and build whatever he wanted. The father had only one condition: Ive had to think carefully about what the construction would look like and sketch it out in detail.
After finishing school, Ive first thought about studying automotive design, but soon rejected the plan. Instead, he studied industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic. Some of his designs were already exhibited at the Design Museum in London when Ive was still studying. Ive completed his studies in 1989, first doing an internship with Roberts Weaver and then joining the London start-up Tangerine. However, his work there did not satisfy him, and so it suited him that Tangerine began working with Apple in the early 1990s.
Jonathan Ive becomes new chief designer at Apple
While still an employee of Tangerine, Jonathan Ive designed the first PowerBook for Apple. In September 1992 he was enticed away by Apple and moved from England to California. His first job was designing the Newton and MessagePad 110 handheld computers. Because the devices failed to succeed, Ive thought several times about quitting Apple. In 1997, Steve Jobs, who had to leave Apple in 1985, returned to the company. He appointed Ive Senior Vice President of Industrial Design because he wanted to use him to steer the company’s creative line in a new direction. Ive got his own team and was the first to design the iMac with a colorful case.
All the products that made Apple one of the most innovative tech companies in the world were designed by Ive. He was responsible for the looks of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, as well as iBook and MacBook Pro. Since 2012, he’s also been responsible for the look and feel of Apple’s operating systems. One of his first steps was to completely redesign the iOS mobile operating system. Since 2011, Ive has had the suffix “Sir” because he was appointed Knight Commander by Queen Elizabeth II.
Quotes of Jonathan Ive
Really great design is hard. Good is the enemy of great.
… it’s very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better.
If something is not good enough, stop doing it.
There's no learning without trying lots of ideas and failing lots of times.
To design something really new and innovative you have to reject reason.
There is beauty when something works and it works intuitively.
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