British designer Sir Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive’s sleek, ergonomic designs for Apple have revolutionised technological design and set a new aesthetic benchmark for personal devices. His design philosophy and products are often compared to those of Sixties designer Dieter Rams.
As vice president of design, Ive leads the Californian technology giant’s design team and reports directly to chief executive Tim Cook. Ive has lead the company’s design team since 1996 and is responsible for the design of the Macbook Pro, iMac, Macbook Air, iPod, iPod Touch, iPad, iPad Mini and iOS 7. Ive also directs and provides leadership for the company’s human interface software teams.
Ive told Time, “Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it is made. I want to know what things are for, how they work, what they can or should be made of, before I even begin to think what they should look like. More and more people do. There is a resurgence of the idea of craft.”
Dissatisfied with the Apple’s previous focus on profit maximisation, Ive was preparing to quit his role until Steve Jobs became chief executive in 1997, Ive told The Sydney Morning Herald, ''I remember very clearly Steve announcing that our goal is not just to make money but to make great products. The decisions you make based on that philosophy are fundamentally different from the ones we had been making at Apple.” Jobs and Ive subsequently forged an exceptionally strong working relationship, which would sit at the core of Apple’s success, and lead to Jobs referring to Ive as his “spiritual partner at Apple.”
Born in the Chingford to a silversmith father who lectured at Middlesex Polytechnic, Ive was encouraged to design from an early age. As a boy Ive’s Christmas present from his father would be a day of his time in his workshop, during which they would make whatever Ive had dreamed up together.
The designer holds a Bachelor of Arts and an honorary doctorate from Newcastle Polytechnic. In 2003, he was named Designer of the Year by the Design Museum London and awarded the title Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts. In 2012 Ive was knighted as part of the New Year honours list. Despite his success, Ive is quick to stress, “I don’t like being singled out for attention. Designing, engineering and making these products requires large teams.”