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

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.