From 1998’s iMac, to iPhone, to Apple Park: Jony Ive designed everything for Apple
The minimalist design you recognise Apple for? That’s all Jony Ive, and now he is leaving!
In an announcement late last evening, Apple announced that Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, will be leaving the company later this year to form an independent design firm — LoveFrom.
Apple dropped this news like a bomb. No one in the media got a heads up about this news. However, for a while now there has been this rumour that Ive had one foot out the door, and that his last real interest now at Apple was to design the Apple Park, and not Apple products.
Ive joined Apple in 1992 and led Apple’s design teams since 1996. He took up his current role as chief design officer in 2015. He took an interim of two years and handed over management duties to vice presidents Richard Howarth and Alan Dye, while he designed the Apple Park. In 2017, he resumed his role as reporting manager.
Ive is one of the world’s most esteemed industrial designers and has worked on products, including the 1998 iMac the first and subsequent iPhones, iPods and iPads, and the Apple Watch.
But what does Jony Ive’s exit mean for Apple and its future products?
His role in the company forces you to think about what happens when he leaves the company. Will Apple products look the same? Will there be any drastic design changes we should expect? Well, if we are to believe Apple, at least for a few years, the design philosophies will remain the same, in the sense that it will take some time before Apple’s product designs get a complete overhaul.
Apple in its announcement yesterday said that the company will be among the primary clients of Ive’s new design firm. “Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. “After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”
Ive too reciprocated the same confidence in working closely with Apple even after exit, “After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history. The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.” said Ive.
A look back at Jony Ive’s prolific legacy at Apple
While we hope that Jony Ive’s magic touch remains with Apple products even in the future, nobody can really tell for sure what kind of impact will this have on Apple’s business or its design philosophy. (This may just be a good thing for Apple considering Ive’s obsession with sleek and minimal design in products has actually been impacting the performance of the machines. Read: The Macbook keyboard fiasco.)
What we can do, though, is look back at some of the iconic products Ive designed at Apple. Since the 90s, Ive has been working on Apple products and has designed some of their most recognisable devices.
1998’s iMac G3
If you were alive in the 90s, you surely remember the iMac G3. It was one of the coolest looking computers at the time and till date the most colourful offering by the company ever. Who designed it? Jony Ive did. In fact, the iMac was his debut product.
In 2007, Apple broke the smartphone market with the launch of the first iPhone. And the design of smartphone was definitely its strongest weapon. The iPhone focused on ease-of-use, a premium design and a multi-touch display.
In 2012, Apple launched the first iPod, which quickly became the must-have MP3 player, and was very popular among teenagers. I, for one, remember begging my parents for the iPod, and then bartered favours from my friends in return for some iPod time.
The iPod’s iconic click wheel easily let users scroll through the device, with a simple gesture. The wheel’s idea came from Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, but was designed by Ive’s team.
When Microsoft and other companies in the market were struggling to get people to use the tablet, Apple changed the game with the iPad. Similar to the iPhone, the iPad had a much smoother user experience, it had a large screen to browse the web, watch videos and flip through pictures, and was sleeker than a lot of its competitors.
Another win for Apple was the original MacBook Air. At the launch event, Steve Jobs pulled it out of a manila envelope on stage, and that sleek design really attracted attention. Some design aspects, like the keyboard, in the original MacBook were so good that we sometimes hope that Apple gives up on the current butterfly design and just go back to the old keyboard.
Another game-changer by Apple, designed by Jony Ive, is the Apple Watch. When the company launched it, nobody believed that people would actually give up their traditional watch for a “potentially harmful” wearable. But in no time the Apple Watch won all hearts with its touch-screen display, convenient twist ‘Digital Crown’ controls. Four years later, you’d be hard pressed to walk down the streets in a modern city and not find someone wearing the Watch.
And then there are the iPods. Jony Ive designed these truly wireless earphones for Apple, that were widely mocked for their design, but despite everything are of the most popular products by the company. Today they’re pretty much standard wear on fashionable people.
Again, Ive’s focus on simplicity helped make them popular: just pop them in and you’re listening to music. Even the charging case has an addictive click mechanism.