Jony Ive explains some of the secrets to Apple’s sauce

Jonathan Ive has made quite a name for himself over the past few years. And for good reason too. Apple’s SVP of industrial design is largely responsible for creating the look and feel of several popular products, including the iPod and the iPhone.

The London-born designer has a reputation for being fairly quiet, and rarely does media interviews. So you can imagine our surprise when we found out that Mr. Ive recently opened up to the London Evening Standard about a broad range of topics…

Ive talks about everything from his reaction to receiving a Knighthood from the Queen of England, to what makes design so different at Apple. Here are a few of the questions and answers we found most interesting:

“Q: What makes a great designer? A: It is so important to be light on your feet, inquisitive and interested in being wrong. You have that wonderful fascination with the what if questions, but you also need absolute focus and a keen insight in the the context and what is important – that is really terribly important. It’s about contradictions you have to navigate.”

Q: What are your goals when setting out to build a new product? A: 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.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in constantly innovating? A: For as long as we’ve been doing this, I am still surprised how difficult it is to do this, but you know exactly when you’re there – it can be the smallest shift, and suddenly transforms the object, without any contrivance. Some of the problem solving in the iPad is really quite remarkable, there is this danger you want to communicate this to people. I think that is a fantastic irony, how oblivious people are to the acrobatics we’ve performed to solve a problem – but that’s our job, and I think people know there is tremendous care behind the finished product.”

Perhaps even more interesting is how Jony Ive explains the differences between Apple and its competition. He says that while other manufacturers strive to create something different or new — something marketable, Apple strives to make something that they love. So they know that other people will love it too.

Ive also reiterates a point Steve Jobs made a few years back that Apple doesn’t use focus groups for its products. “It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”

The entire interview is really worth a read if you have the time. It proves how intelligent Ive is and how masterful he has become at his craft. It also helps shine some light on why Apple’s products look and feel the way they do.