Jony Ive talks design, Steve Jobs, iWatch rumors and more in new interview

By , Mar 17, 2014

jony ive

The typically quiet Jony Ive participated in a new interview which surfaced online yesterday. The Sunday Times was able to sit down with Apple’s world-renowned designer for a lengthy discussion on a wide range of topics as part of its ‘Makers of the 21st Century’ series.

As usual, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorite parts from the article, but I’ll go ahead and tell you right now, the entire thing is worth reading. It’s very well written, covers a wide range of topics, (5 pages worth) from rumors to copycats, and Jony Ive is surprisingly candid…

Here’s a nice clip on part of Ive’s design process (via 9to5Mac):

Ive starts a project by imagining what a new kind of product should be and what it should do. Only once he’s answered those questions does he work out what it should look like. He seeks advice in unlikely places. He world with confectionery manufacturers to perfect the translucent jelly-bean shades of his first big hit, the original iMac. He travelled to Niigata in northern Japan to see how metalworkers there beat metal so thin, to help him create the Titanium PowerBook.

He spent “months and months and months” working out the exact shape of the stand of the desktop iMac computer because “it’s very hard to design something that you almost do not see because it just seems so obvious, natural and inevitable.” When he has finished a product, even one as fresh and iconic as the white headphones that came with the first iPod, he is haunted by the idea: could I have done it better? “It’s an affliction designers are cursed with,” Ive frowns.

And he shared that affliction with Steve Jobs. As many know, Ive was extremely tight with Jobs, referring to him as his “closest friend.” As people, they were very different, but in the design lab, they were the exact same—seeing the same things and asking the same questions.

The pair also had the same feelings towards the so-called ‘copycats':

I hear it again when I ask whether he is flattered or frustrated when he sees his designs so widely referenced, reworked—OK, copied. “It’s theft,” he replies in a heartbeat, his eyes narrowing sharply. “What’s copied isn’t just a design, it’s thousands and thousands of hours of struggle. It’s only when you’ve achieved what you set out to do that you can say, ‘this was worth pursuing.’ It takes years of investment, years of pain.”

Jobs put Ive’s anger into action. he severed ties with the Google boss and former Apple board member Eric Schmidt, when it emerged that Google was developing its own answer to the iPhone. Jobs also successfully sued Samsung for $1bn for ripping off Apple’s ideas.

Admittedly, there isn’t much in this interview that will surprise you. A lot of it you’ve heard in other articles and profiles. But I’ve never heard Ive openly talk about the ongoing infringement lawsuits Apple is involved in—many of which pertain to design patents based on his work.

I also don’t know if he’s ever been asked about, or commented on, rumors:

That relationship is getting closer all the time. The new big thing is wearable tech. Google has brought out web-enabled Google Glass spectacles. Samsung and Sony have introduced web-linked smartwatches. Will Apple make an iWatch? “Obviously, there are rumors about us working on… and, obviously, I’m not going to talk about that. It’s a game of chess, isn’t it?” Sounds like the Jaeger-LeCoultre sports watch he’s wearing is not long for his wrist.

And we’ll stop there. Honestly I could’ve picked several other excerpts, so I’ll go ahead and urge you once more to read the whole thing. It looks like The Sunday Times has a paywall, but the whole interview has been republished by Time, and you can find it here.

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  • Anmol Malhotra

    The Man behind Apple great products!! :) ;)

    • omrishtam

      one of many

  • Willie

    Sneaky Ive is really sneaky! He’s killing me with all the tense rumours

    • omrishtam

      personally i don’t like rumors, they only ruin the surprise and sometimes even make bad feedback about the product: for example, before iPhone 5C was introduced, the rumors about it were that it should be a cheaper and more affordable device, but when it was released noone said it’s like that and then all the bad feedback about it was “why didn’t we get an affordable device as said in the rumors?”
      the problem with rumors is that too many people looks at them like it’s a promise that this is what they will get….or at least somewhere really near

      • ConduciveMammal

        I definitely agree with you. I’ve always said the same. I was hugely disappointed with the i5s merely because all the news came out before it was revealed. Apple always loved that “wow” factor from the public and yet it seems nigh-on impossible to continue to do so nowadays.

      • Jeffrey

        it’s true, but then again, if there were no rumors, i would dieee of curiosity

  • YzMENTALzY

    Oh shut up Jony all your saying is everyone copies Apple designs bla bla bla…. NONSENSE just google Dieter Rams People…. ive Copied everything from him you dont see braun sueuing

    • Jeffrey

      No jony ive is the greatest designer of the 21st century, everyone copies him, especially HP and Samsung!!! Dicks, thats what they are. Money cant make copying design good. Nothing can, by stealing designs, you’ye actually stealing millions of customers. Sometimes i wonder what tech would look like if apple never existed…

      • YzMENTALzY

        Jony has been stealing for years so has apple weather you like it or not steve himself said great artists steal funny how when the tide changed they acting like the victims.

      • Jeffrey

        steve did say that but what he meant with it was ideas and techniques, not designs. apple was the first company to introduce a smartphone with such an innovative design… samsung copied them. HP copies the imac and macbooks, just like some other companies. apple has NEVER stolen designs, jony ive is the greatest designer ever so don’t say stupid things. you dont even have proof, show me a design that apple has clearly stolen from another company? also, if you don’t like apple, what the hell are you doing here on iDB hating on such a great article?

      • Mohamed Shuaadh

        I respect your OPINION.

      • Jeffrey

        hahah thanks i guess, so whats your ‘opinion’?

      • Raashid

        “steve did say that but what he meant with it was ideas and techniques, not designs. apple was the first company to introduce a smartphone with such an innovative design…samsung copied them”

        Please stop drinking that BS koolaid. The attached image was Samsung’s design development in 2006 before the iPhone. Apple stole the idea like a great artist and began suing Samsung for what they stole, same thing they’ve been doing for years; being a hypocrite (http://bit ly/13tVo4n).

        MrElectrifyer:”This lawsuit started off a bit unfair. Seems like Apple paid judge Lucy Koh to throw out true evidence (http://bit ly/1hZqZVJ) of previous existence that invalidate Design Patent 087 (Ornamental design of the iPhone, white color) and Design Patent 677 (Ornamental design of the iPhone, black color). Capitalism at it’s finest…My only other conclusion would be that the judge is a biased Apple fangirl who should be sued by Samsung for making intentionally inaccurate judgement AND should be fired from her job as a judge (if the US justice system is actually about justice and not money). Considering the following:

        “- She just excluded the evidence without giving any explanation of why it’s inadmissable; hence why she got angry (http://bit ly/1qp9IJz) when Samsung rebelliously exposed her BS ruling.- Apple was going to play the same great-artist anti-competitor card against the F700 until they realized it’s was filed back in 2006 before the iPhone. Ruling out the possibility of it being a copy of the iPhone, living the possibility of the iPhone being a copy of it instead.- The Judge’s exclusion of evidence on independent creation meant that even though Apple was allowed to inaccurately argue to the jury that the F700 was an iPhone copy, Samsung was not allowed to tell the jury the full story and show the pre-iPhone design for that and other phones that were in development at Samsung in 2006, before the iPhone.- Also that the patents are still considered to be infringed on even after an appeal; ruling out the possibility of it being due to late submission of evidence.- And that the iPhone design is as similar to the F700 as the Samsung GS2 is to the iPhone.”

      • Jeffrey

        the original iphone has been in development for 6 years before the release date, do you REALLY think that the design wasn’t made before this samsung design? samsung copied iphone designs and not the other way around, there’s no doubt in that! also the site doesn’t make sense, the icons that apple has ‘stolen’ from android were there already in ios 1-6 so the icons weren’t redesigned. also the lockscreen of ios 7 is the lockscreen of ios 6 without the overlays so they didnt steal that either. the idea of the control center may be thought of first by other companies, but the control center is just something that every mobile operating system needs, so apple couldn’t NOT implement that. it’s like samsung and google copied apple’s siri. also the slide to delete feature was in ios long before ios 7 so android actually copied ios! etc etc etc. you have to see, some things can’t be redesigned hundreds of times, sometimes there are designs so good and standard that you have to use a similar design. aaaand sometimes people just assume they copied something because they used the same color for a little detail… and if you wrap it all up, ios and android don’t look alike AT ALL

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        “the original iphone has been in development for 6 years before the release date”

        Do you have any sources to back that claim? That’s as logical as me claiming Samsung’s design began back in 1990…

      • Jeffrey

        *sigh* theres no talking with people like you, i read it a while ago, look it up

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        Yeah, there’s no reasoning with people like you; ’cause conventional facts never support your claims…

      • WATTS

        And there’s no talking to iFaggots like you who are so far up Apples arse you can’t see the truth for all the sh!t on your face!

        You completely ignore many good and valid points in that link above because your love of Apple blinds you from the truth. You’re easily brainwashed and such a weak minded person.

        However although Apple do copy, most businesses do it but I believe Apple still release good products and that’s why I have an iPhone 6, iPhone 5c, x2 iPhone4 and an iPad 3 in my house.

        You see it’s possible to own Apple products without blindly following someone without a mind of your own.

        I’m a fan, not an iFaggot!

      • xSeriouSx

        There it is yet again, the Apple reality distortion field at work…

      • Jeffrey

        i dont get it, also, where is samsung in the upper picture? samsung is the biggest thief of them all

      • Guest

        Only an iDiot wouldn’t get it…

      • Jeffrey

        I get it but i dont get how someone could think this, ass

    • Jeffrey

      Dieter Rams stuff doesnt even look like jony ives stuff, how the hell could you compare that? you just WANT it to look like it

  • Matt

    This man — he’s like Gandhi — peaceful — amazing — and a Godsend — literally
    What would we do without him?
    Have plastic iPhones?
    And still use plastic Macs?

  • http://www.apple.com St3vè Jb

    I’m sad in Heaven

    • Jeffrey

      stop… just stop… this is disrespectfull

      • http://www.apple.com St3vè Jb

        WTF‼️ WHATS YOUR PROBLEM NIGGAS❓

      • Christian

        Your Actitud and a really bad sense of humor!!! Thats the problem!!

      • http://www.apple.com St3vè Jb

        R u Fight me Bad Ass

      • Jeffrey

        Stop.

  • Carlos Reyes

    I can’t imagine the amount of pressure this guy is under…so many expectations for every new Apple product. Apple fan or not this guy deserves some real respect. Hat’s off.

  • oralarts

    It’s unfortunate that the author doesn’t cite Leander Kahney’s recent book on Ive from which he plagiarized multiple anecdotes. If you’re interested in learning more on Apple’s VP of Industrial design, I highly recommend checking out Kahney’s book.

  • Senthet

    Send him to a place the sun never shine.