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Apple’s Jony Ive Reveals Details About Product (RED) Design

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Photograph by: Annie Leibovitz
Photograph by: Annie Leibovitz

Apple is deeply involved in the fight against AIDS: it has a website dedicated to this campaign, which is scheduled for November 23, 2013, and has already raised over $65 million (since 2006). But what makes this year’s event so special is the signage of the company’s head of industrial design, Jony Ive, who, alongside his good friend, London-based industrial designer Marc Newson, and Bono, will organize a Product (RED) Auction celebrating the very best of design and innovation. Ive and Newson sat down with Vanity Fair to talk about the process (via 9to5mac).

The lengthy interview presents a couple milestones of both Ive’s and Newson’s career, and their design philosophy. While speaking with Paul Goldberger of Vanity Fair, Ive explained why he was having a good time with Newson: it’s because they share similar philosophy of design. They are both obsessive about details, and they aren’t open for compromises.

“We are both fanatical in terms of care and attention to things people don’t see immediately,” Ive said. “It’s like finishing the back of a drawer. Nobody’s going to see it, but you do it anyway. Products are a form of communication—they demonstrate your value system, what you care about.”

The interview also shares details of the unique Leica camera Ive designed for the RED auction:

It does everything the regular Leica does, with the same lenses and the same functions, but the controls no longer seem intrusive, like silver barnacles on a black metal beast. Instead, every button and every lever is a tiny sensual moment, subsumed into the overall form of the camera. Never a thing of beauty, the Leica has become one by being boiled down to its essence. […] The camera’s dollar worth is hard to estimate, since it is an art piece as much as a functioning object, but the value of the time Ive, Newson, and Leica’s own engineers put into it probably totals well into six figures, and possibly seven. The process of designing and making the camera took more than nine months, and involved 947 different prototype parts and 561 different models before the design was completed. According to Apple, 55 engineers assisted at some part in the process, spending a collective total of 2,149 hours on the project. Final assembly of the actual camera took one engineer 50 hours, the equivalent of more than six workdays, all of which makes Ive’s comment to me that he thought the Leica might bring $6 million seem not so far-fetched.

You can read the whole interview here, and believe me, you won’t regret the spending the time to do so.

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