The New Yorker has today published a comprehensive profile of Apple’s design chief, forty-seven-year-old Sir Jonathan Ive, in which he speaks about the Apple Watch and a range other topics, including Steve Jobs and Angela Ahrendts’ plans to redesign the Apple Stores.
During the interview Jony Ive reflects on his two decades spent at Apple. He joined the company in 1992, and five years later he became its head of industrial design. However, back in 1997, Apple-related headlines weren’t as positive as they are today. Everything changed though, when Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Assuming the worst, Ive had a resignation letter in his pocket when he met with Jobs for the first time. Yet the meeting, in actuality, laid the foundation for long-term friendship and cooperation.
Jobs visited the design studio and, as Ive recalled it, said, “Fuck, you’ve not been very effective, have you?” This was a partial compliment. Jobs could see that the studio’s work had value, even if Ive could be faulted for not communicating its worth to the company. During the visit, Ive said, Jobs “became more and more confident, and got really excited about our ability to work together.” That day, according to Ive, they started collaborating on what became the iMac. Soon afterward, Apple launched its “Think Different” campaign, and Ive took it as a reminder of the importance of “not being apologetic, not defining a way of being in response to what Dell just did.” He went on, “My intuition’s good, but my ability to articulate what I feel was not very good—and remains not very good, frustratingly. And that’s what’s hard, with Steve not being here now.” (At Jobs’s memorial, Ive called him “my closest and my most loyal friend.”)
When asked about the Apple Watch, Ive says the device was conceived “close to Steve’s death”.
I asked Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, if the Apple Watch seemed more purely Ive’s than previous company products. After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, “Yes.”
However, this new product, about to go public in April, also brought new challenges to Apple Stores as well: how best to display such a product in the shops? Now that former Burberry C.E.O. Angela Ahrendts, has joined Apple, she and Ive will be working together to redesign the stores — although this isn’t official, yet.
Ive has begun to work with Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, on a redesign—as yet unannounced—of the Apple Stores. These new spaces will surely become a more natural setting for vitrines filled with gold (and perhaps less welcoming, at least in some corners, to tourists and truants).
The article is a must-read for every Apple fan.