Jony Ive tell you everything!15 de July de 2019
Watching the buzz of the week, we could not speak of another thing or person. Yes, my friends, Sir Jonathan Ive left the position of Apple Chief Design Officer and came straight to the Ghost Interview. If you are not familiar with this term, don’t worry, we explain that to you: the ghost interview is a summary of all the interviews the person already gave and are public, for everyone to see.
As less is more, simplicity is all (or that’s what Ive taught us), we leave you with thiscomment from nobody less than Steve Jobs about the ghost interviewee of the day: “If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it was Jony. Jony and I thought about most of the products together. He gets the big picture, as well as each product’s smallest details. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He is not just a designer. That is why he works directly for me. And he has more operating power than anyone else at Apple, except for me.”
Jony, you career has been scrutinized since last week, so we want to go back a little: What did you like to do when you were a child, what was it like at school, what made you turn to design?
I have always liked to draw and make objects. The main reason for me to draw was to help assemble objects, it was not a free drawing, it had a purpose. Later on, I found out it was called design. My father was a good craftsman – he was jeweler – so, I grew up understanding how objects are made. This is something easy to not take in the notice of, but everything we use has been projected and thought of. Growing up with this appreciation of the nature of objects influenced me a lot.
At school, I was not particularly good at any subject other than drawing and arts – it was where my heart lied. Ironically, not being very good at other subjects actually helped me focus on what I liked and what I was good at. When I was 11, I liked to assemble small cardboard objects. I recall making a box with a lid and trying to make it perfectly: I repeated it many times until the result was as I wanted. It was not about the box, but the process.
This accompanied me over time. One of the main characteristics of my work is that I have to be totally involved with how to make the object: you cannot create a design from something abstract and then have someone build it. I have already spent months where they make the products. I do not know how to be an efficient designer without doing it.
(Interview to Vogue, on April 2, 2018)
You joined Apple in 1992, but you really started to sign the products when Steve Jobs returned to the company. What was this transition like? Mainly when we think that Apple was going through a quite negative period in terms of finance.
I was an independent designer in London and Apple was a client. I joined Apple in 1992, I was quite interested in the company and the culture, not particularly in the technology.When I joined Apple, it was on the verge of falling into total irrelevance, it was a very painful moment. I passed by a number of CEOs whose goal was to turn the game around for the company. And it meant, mainly, “Let’s make more money than we lose.” It was a “turnaround” with efforts focused on money. And what most shocked us when Steve returned in 1996 was that he did not talk about money, in the way. And the company was losing a fabulous amount of capital every quarter. He did not talk about money, he focused on the product. The focus was all about the product. Instead of talking about cutting costs, he came and questioned about the product’s quality.
And this leads us to my first experience with him. It was something that I had never lived before, and I have not since. But we did not get along well in the first meeting. Steve got into the design studio and noticed that, what we were doing there, was not exactly what Apple was selling. And he made a very well-articulated observation, he said – loud and clear – how incredibly incompetent I was in the company. It was sort of harsh to hear, but it was true; however, the situation was even worse than his words. In the end, we became very close friends. Our families went on vacations together, and we went to work together every day. We had lunch together, and in the first months, he spent part of the afternoon in the design studio.
But what I actually held from all this situation and the relationship I built with Steve was the creative process – trying to communicate an idea to each other, then, transform it into something possible to be done. Everything begins in such a fragile manner, but it keeps gaining strength. It is something that I still love in design: you can turn a fragile thought into something powerful, and this is amazing
(Presentation at TechFest, New Yorker, on October 6, 2017)
You were the mind behind of very iconic products by Apple, such as iPod, iPhone, and iPad (some people even try to imagine what it would be like if you signed the design of the world, really), can you tell us what the creation process is at Apple? In a practical manner…
The product you have in your hand or put on your ear or keeps in your pocket is more personal than any product that you have on your desk. There is a huge challenge in doing something as hard and demanding as technology to become intimate and personal. People have an amazing relationship with what we do.
(Interview to Time magazine on March 17, 2014)
First of all, I should say that I was lucky to have been part of an amazing design team for the last 20 years. The core design team is, in fact, very small, there are about 16 or 17 of us. We chose to keep it this size. One of the things we do is that, as a team, we met three to four times a week. This helped with the collaboration for the projects each of us was focused on. Do you know the tables we have at Apple stores around the world? We have some of them in the design studio, because we even observe how it could be displayed. We sit at the tables and draw. We still draw a lot. A creative process, you may not have any idea on Tuesday, an on Wednesday you have an idea. And it becomes a chat. A way for design to begin is by chatting. And it involves some people, it is something really unique. Another thing that made all the difference in the process is to transform an idea into a prototype. We make a lot of models – in metal, plastic. There is a deep change when the models begin to appear, it gives focus to the team. When they are struggling to communicate the abstract ideas, the model helps to describe what we are trying to do. The model helps us see the problems. Typically, the final product turns out very different from the model, but when you have the product to manipulate, everything changes in the team.
(Talk at New Establishment Summit, Vanity Fair, on October 16, 2014)
At Apple Park, the design team will get together in the same space, all of the experts. You can gather these different expertise areas and with diverse experiences. I am quite sure it had never happened before – having industrial designers close to font designers next to those making prototypes and haptic specialists. The best haptic specialists of the world are sitting beside a bunch of guys with PhD in materials science. To understand which the opportunities and possibilities for the future are, this collaboration among areas is necessary.
(Interview to Financial Times, on October 19, 2018)
So far so good, but how about the failures, the errors, the products that need to go through a remodeling?
When we sit down to develop a product, it is hard to identify who is the electrical engineer, who is the mechanical engineer, and who is the industrial designer. A fundamental part of our process is that we make mistakes together. You cannot learn if you do not try different ideas and if you do not fail over and over again.
(Interview to The Telegraph, on May 23, 2012 )
You might say that you know [when a product is done], but your tummy might be doing something else. Because you don’t know. I wish I could explain this well, and I know I’m going to do an appalling job. The difference between an idea or an early model, isn’t in its time, but it’s that you’ve solved a lot of its problems. So, for 99% of the design process, and development process, it’s failing. So, you spend most of your time worried and thinking, “this is not working.” And I know that sounds sort of naïve and very obvious, but that’s a really big deal. And so there’s this weird faith that you have, so that’s when you depend again on the group of people with whom you’ve been doing this with for years and years and years, and we can look at each other with that slightly startled, sort of terrified look. That’s where experience, not only as an individual, but experience as a group is really important.
(Interview to Fast Company during an event at the Hirshhorn Museum, on June 12, 2017)
For example, the iPhone X we announced is a technology [both the screen size and the facial recognition feature] we’d been working on for five years. And we had prototypes that were this big. There’s a tendency [in the market], and of course there is, with the benefit of hindsight, everything in the iPhone X seems inevitable. But for 99% of the time, this phone didn’t work for us. For the vast majority of the development cycle, all we had were things that failed. By definition, if [the prototypes] didn’t fail halfway through, then we’d be done.
(Business Insider story on October 7, 2017)
You were one of the first persons to receive an iPhone call, you were part of the team that produced smartphone, what do you think of the rampant use of cell phones today?
I think it’s good to be connected. I think the real question is what the user does with that connection. I think the nature of innovation is that you cannot predict all the consequences of what you create. In my experience, there have been surprising consequences. Some fabulous, and some less so. We see it as an organic process that might change. The important thing is to keep thinking over and understanding what you have created. We’ve been doing a lot of work in terms of not only understanding how long users use a device, but how they’re using it. That’s why we added the function “screen time” in iOS. I think this is the challenge, I’m more concerned about the way our environment and our context affect how we relate to each other. So, when you are face to face with someone, there is a number of behaviors that are considered as acceptable. And I notice how much this interaction deteriorates when people are behind the wheel of a car – where they are often ruder and less polite. Because there are two barriers – the speed and the window. I think the more you put these barriers, the more the communication is just transactional, and then people tend to be less gentle.That’s why we are always trying to work on the nuance. Trying to transform communication [via cell phone] in something less transactional, more personal, such as improving emojis. It’s a way of restoring humanity in hoe we get connected.
We do not see our responsibilities ending when the product is sold. I think it is important, we learn a lot, it informs and influences our next steps. There is no ambiguity for us: We have a moral and civil responsibility in relation to people and our creations.
(Interview to Anna Wintour, Wired 25, on October 15 2018)
Now, Jony, in face of this highly rich career at Apple, what made you leave to create your own design agency, LoveFrom?
Some weeks ago, we had the official launch of Apple Park. It was a project I started to work on in 2004. And this was very meaningful, because it was for us. I think that part of the timing for my leaving and creating LoveFrom has to do with having the clarity of what is good for the design team’s health and vitality. I’m anxious to contribute in many ways for the projects we have been working on for years. I certainly have an ambition, and I feel almost a moral obligation of being useful.
If you are doing something that will be truly innovative, it is hard – it is hard and time-consuming. This often requires a technology that takes years to be developed. There are products we have been working on for many years. I’m excited to keep working on it. And there are also some new projects that I’ll develop by myself.
I recall an employee meeting a number of years ago, where Steve [Jobs] was talking. He said that one of the fundamental motivations to create something was to do so with love and care. Even though you probably will never meet all the users, you can never talk with each of them, by making something with care, love, and consideration, you are expressing your gratitude to this person and the humanity. My company is called “LoveFrom” with this in mind.
What will I do now? Well, there are some areas that are natural passions for me. The work I’ve been doing on wearable technology is one of these passions – with technology becoming more and more personal – which is inevitable, once the object is worn. We’ve seen an extraordinary usage power of this technology linked to health and well-being. This is an area I’m fascinated by.
(Interview to Financial Time on June 27, 2019)
And now, just to wrap up in a lighter manner, you have not finished your contribution of design to the technology world, but also to cinema. You were one of the guys who helped create Eva, from “Wall-E,” but could you tell us a little more about how you helped in the new Star Wars trilogy?
I had a conversation [with JJ Abrams, director of the first movie of the new Star Wars trilogy] about the lightsabers. I said to him that it would be interesting if these swords were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty. This “redesigned weapon” could be analog and more primitive, and in that way, it could be more ominous.
(Profile at New Yorker magazine of February 16, 2015)