ive interview

Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, gave an onstage interview last night at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. The executive was among several Silicon Valley elite to participate in the conference, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and Astro Teller from Google X.

Although Ive has participated in several interviews over the years, his appearance on stage is a rare one—rumor has it that he doesn’t like speaking in front of large crowds. The discussion covered a number of interesting topics, including how Apple goes about designing its new products, life lessons from Steve Jobs, and more.

Here’s a clip from the interview:

And a few of our favorite tidbits (via BusinessInsider):

Q: What do you think of Xiaomi, the Chinese startup often criticized for copying Apple designs?

Jony: There is a danger…I don’t see it as flattery. I see it as theft. (Talking about copying desings in general). When you’re doing something for the first time and you don’t know it’s going to work. I have to be honest the last thing I think is “Oh, that is flattering. All those weekends I could’ve been home with my family…I think it’s theft and lazy. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”

Q: Lessons working with Steve Jobs?

Jony: Focus. Steve was the most focused person I’ve met in my life. It’s terrifying that when you really truly focus, it seems a bit illegal. You can achieve so much. Steve would say “How many things have you said no to?” And I would have these sacrificial things…and he knew that I wasn’t interested in doing those things anyway. What focus means is saying no with every bone in your body to something you know is a good idea but you say no because you’re focused on something else.

I remember talking to Steve Jobs and asked why he was perceived as harsh. And I said couldn’t we be more moderate? And he said why? And I said because I care about the team. And he said: “No Jony, you’re just really vain. You just want people to like you. I’m surprised at you, because I thought you really held the work up as the most important and not how you are perceived by people.”

People misunderstand Steve because he was so focused.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

Jony: One of the advantages of being part of a design team that’s been around for a long time is we’ve had the luxury to develop our process. We meet three or four times a week.

The designers gather around the same kind of tablets you see in Apple Stores. We stand around those tables…and we draw.

Jony Ive began working with Apple in the early 90’s as a design consultant through a London studio called Tangerine. He joined the Cupertino firm full-time in 1992, and went on to design a slew of hit products including the iMac, iPod and of course iPhone and iPad. He is now SVP of design and head of Human Interface.

For more on Ive’s Vanity Fair interview, BusinessInsider has a shorthand transcript of the conversation.

[Vanity Fair via BI]

  • hkgsulphate

    people who use Xiaomi should be ashamed of themselves

    • RarestName

      Why?

      • Carlos Gomes

        Honestly I think that being ashamed because of that would be overreacting, but it’s like using one of those iPhone 6 knock-off or obvious Nike shoes knock offs.

      • RarestName

        True, but the quality and performance of Xiaomi phones are heaps better than those knockoff products out there from what I heard.

    • GuyBey0ndC00L

      In China everything gets copied but only few is actually good

  • The great artist (http://bit ly/1sh45uG) talking about copying being theft…such hypocrites.

    • RarestName

      He was talking about people in general.

      • Uhm, could you kindly elaborate?

      • RarestName

        Ultimately it comes down to taste. It comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done and then try to bring those things in to what you’re doing. I mean Picasso had a saying he said good artists copy great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.

        The “we” was referring to what humans have done in the past. The quote was also referring to the same thing.

        This comment is often misunderstood to be a “confession” when it’s not; he had no reasons to talk about his own company like that.

      • Right, makes sense.

      • RarestName

        Yeah, it’s just a coincidence.

    • diggitydang

      I think people tend to misunderstand this statement… what I think you, along with what Apple is accusing people of, is that people are just taking what they do and doing exactly the same thing, verbatim, without any thought on what will make it their own. What I respect about Apple is that they DO “steal” good ideas, but they, for better or for worse, try to make it their own – Apple-esque, if you will. They know who they are. They actually pause to think “what should this look like in the grand scheme of the entire product” and how can we make it feel like it’s synonymous with the whole. Again, that’s sometimes for the worse and that may have a cost (customization, for example). Contrast that to much of what, say Samsung does, by slapping everyone’s ideas together with no real thought (at least, it seems), throwing a bunch of specs at people and things not really working all that well (e.g. fingerprint reader). If it was the reverse, and Samsung came out with TouchID, and Apple put Samsung’s fingerprint reader, hell, we’d have Fingerprint-gate on our hands.

      Just one other thought… the Blackberry Square phone thing… aside from the fact that it looks terrible, I respect that they are trying to create their own identity, aren’t just doing what everyone else is doing and they’re trying to think outside the box.

      • Right, they make it their own in what way exactly? Giving it a new name, integrating it with their device, and patenting it? The latter part is all that Samsung doesn’t seem to be doing IMO. Everything else, they do it from their SmartPhones to their home appliances.

        On a side note, just ’cause Samsung’s fingerprint requires a swipe doesn’t mean it doesn’t work, it’s definitely not as simple as Touch ID, but it sure does work. If they had gone the same touch-based fingerprint reader as Apple, that’ll most like just draw more “copycat” accusations (which are true) and more lawsuits from Apple (which would be hypocritical)…

      • diggitydang

        I’m going to borrow Ian Leon’s comment above:

        ———-
        In apple’s case:
        Touch screen phones weren’t new.
        Camera phones weren’t new
        App stores weren’t new
        Multi touch interface wasn’t new
        Music players weren’t new

        iPhone stole all those things from other things.
        But when you look at a galaxy phone you know it’s just a copy of the iPhone
        ———–
        I totally agree with Ian… all of those things Apple took did exist before, including a Xerox GUI that you mentioned in another comment… the difference is that it was technology/features that people weren’t really using, and never used in the same feature combination that the iPhone used. It’s like taking a bunch of ingredients (that currently exist) and making a new food item that has never been made before. Then, someone coming along and making the exact same unique food item and saying it’s pure coincidence that they used the same ingredient combination as the first guy.

        Take a look at Samsung phones before the iPhone… I’m sure you’ve seen it… then look at after the iPhone… do the same with Android. I’m sure you’ve also seen the court document that went something along the lines of “iPhone does this… Samsung does it this way… do it like the iPhone”.

        You’re entitled to your opinion, and you can buy whatever phone you want… but at the end of the day, there’s no denying that the modern day smartphone is all derived from the iPhone.

      • Sounding like a victim of their reality distortion field (see the attached images). What technology weren’t people using? Curved edge touchscreen smartphones with a single home button?

    • Carlos Gomes

      See, this is when trools’ fanboism backfires.

      Who said that? Pablo Picasso.
      Was he actually talking about stealing? No.
      What was he talking about, then? Art. About how good artists limit themselves to do their work influenced by other artists from the past WHILE great artists steal reality and through an original process, make it their own.
      When did Picasso steal reality to represent it in his own way? In Cubism.

      • Ian Leon

        In apple’s case:
        Touch screen phones weren’t new.
        Camera phones weren’t new
        App stores weren’t new
        Multi touch interface wasn’t new
        Music players weren’t new

        iPhone stole all those things from other things.
        But when you look at a galaxy phone you know it’s just a copy of the iPhone

      • Carlos Gomes

        Yes.
        While others, the good artists, were representing reality the same way it has always been represented, Apple represented reality in their own way when they created the first iPhone.

        Touch screens, cameras, software stores, it was all part of reality already, but the iPhone was the product of a new and original approach.

        Apple stole reality(hardware) and represented it their own way.

      • Reality in their own way? Sounds like a reality distortion field…

      • Carlos Gomes

        Are you really telling me that the original iPhone wasn’t something different from all the other products on the market?

        Because Microsoft said it was.
        Google said it was.
        The whole market said it was, by following the trend and entering the (real) smartphone category.

        Do you hear that sound? It’s you drowning in bitterness. Live your life and stop acting like a dick.

      • It was different by having a better multi-touch display (with colors), incorporating slide to unlock, and being marketed very well. It was a better recipe of stuff that already existed in separate competitor devices.

      • Carlos Gomes

        Finally you get what I was saying, what Pablo Picasso meant with his quote and why Steve Jobs quoted the Spaniard Artist.
        Too bad it look you so long to grasp such a simple idea.

      • Really? What you said was nowhere as straight-forward as what @kokhean:disqus stated. I feel sorry for those who would have you as a teacher…

      • Carlos Gomes

        My good man, if you have troubles understanding that… it explains a lot lol

        You’re just a bitter and frustrated dude looking for some quick ego-fix dose who took this blog as his favorite dealer. Sorry, buddy. Bye bye.

      • K…I’ll live you to do your ignoramus speculations.

      • Hyr3m

        So you’re saying Apple is like those music groups who made one good song 10 years ago and have ever since been making crap and rehashes of what really great groups are/have been making ? I think I agree with you.

      • Carlos Gomes

        Yes, as a matter of fact I was using the first iPhone as an example for the “custom interpretation of reality” that Picasso referred to on that quote. That’s it.

        But I’m really sorry if it sounded as if I came to an Apple-decicated forum to say that I find their products the best in some categories.

      • Uhm, WTF is this butthurt fanboy trying to say? Just visit the linked website and see the endlessly growing list of stuff they stole, patented and claimed to be theirs.

    • Ian Leon

      By stealing he means doing it so well that people end up thinking the idea was yours… Copying is just copying

      • More like marketing it so well…nothing they’ve stolen wasn’t already being utilized well IMO. From the Xerox GUI back in the days, to their recently implemented Apple Pay (although that wasn’t stolen ’cause they didn’t patent NFC).

  • Lhu

    This guy should watch “Pirates of Sillicon Valley” he will “truly” understand who is the thief!

  • Jason Baroni

    Jony is a genius. I’ve been reading about him, his life and works and man, it is impressive to see his evolution, his products evolution and philosophy! I recommend you guys to check more about him.

    • RarestName

      That poor guy is still locked in that white room.

      • Jason Baroni

        By his passion, designing remarkable things.

  • diggitydang

    Certainly not the best speaker or storyteller, but has profound things to say… I respect the man though and he’s as amazing a designer as they come…

  • Eddie

    It’s like I’ll sue all of you wearing the same shirt as I do… you can sue me, too.