John Ive
Designer, and Leader

John Ive is the Chief Design Officer (CDO) of Apple Inc. He oversees the Apple Industrial Design Group and provides leadership and direction for Human Interface software teams across the company. Ive is the designer of many of Apple's products, including the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, Apple Watch and iOS. Steve Jobs considered Ive to be his "spiritual partner at Apple".

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What are you really bad at?


If you could step away from Apple for a year and do anything, what would you do?

Make things for me and my friends. My father was a fantastic craftsman, a great silversmith. So I’d like to make some things in silver

What would you like to make that you’ve not made yet?
What we’re working on right now, which I can’t tell you about.
What’s so great about the colour white?
There’s an odd paradox with white. It’s seen as sort of a non-colour, as entirely neutral, insipid even. But there’s real gravity, significance and purity to it. Plus, to actually make products and objects in white is a very hard thing to do. It’s...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
What have you made that you’re most proud of?
Always the last thing we’ve made.
You’ve been called a minimalist. Are you?
It doesn’t describe what we do or our design goals and it’s certainly not minimalistic to get to where we are. It takes a ridiculously long time to create something pure, simple and intuitive with which you have an emotional connection.
What do you feel when poeple say you are the “greatest living Englishman?”
Thats Absurd
Do you see yourself moving beyond consumer electronics?
I do see the watch as a move away from consumer electronics.
What designs do you enjoy?
Hard question. I'm very critical. I believe that we sense when there's been care taken with a product.
How do you balance functionality and design?
A beautiful product that doesn't work is ugly. The best things we've done are harmonious. I think design is the whole thing. Beauty is in that it works.
What do you think of Xiaomi, the Chinese startup often criticized for copying Apple designs?
There is a danger...I don't see it as flattery. I see it as theft. (Talking about copying desings in general). When you're doing something for the first time and you don't know it's going to work. I have to be honest the last thing I think is "Oh,...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
Lessons working with Steve Jobs?
Focus. Steve was the most focused person I've met in my life. It's terrifying that when you really truly focus, it seems a bit illegal. You can achieve so much. Steve would say "How many things have you said no to?" And I would have these sacrific...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
Talk about designing the watch.
Always been interested in watches. At first watches were designed before pockets were invented, so they were hung around necks. Then the pocketwatch happened. There were watches worn on fingers in the 17th century. For reasons of function, for re...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
What was the biggest "what if" challenge when designing?
Touch was odd. There were many times we almost gave up. We didn't know it was going to work.  On the Apple Watch, there were many technologies that started with the "what if" and "how do we do this?"
You were designing the outsides of machines?
I think if you're doing a good job you can't just pay attention to the outside. You're designing the internal architecture.
How did you end up at Apple?
I met the guys at Apple and then went back to London and did my own designs. Apple went on a big world tour to find a designer and chose me. I had two commissions: One to work with Apple on the PowerBook. The other was working in ceramics for an E...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
Were you turned down for a job?
I wasn't working for a job. Some tried to persuade me to stay. Everyone I asked to meet with me did.
What happened when you first came to California?
I was sponsored through college...I just wanted to meet people. People were so kind and patience. And I lugged that stupid model phone around with me.
What did you think was well designed as a kid?
Braun food mixer...I was shocked at the interest in this object and how well it was made and how beautiful it was. I didn't know what it did, but I assume it did it very well.
Why did you want to be an industrial designer and not an artist or other designer?
It was the only thing I could do. There's a sense of service. We make tools for each other. 
What was the first Apple product you used before joining Apple?
In art school. The computers colleges had were terrible. I assumed the problems were with me.  When you eat something that's bad, you assume the food is bad. But when you use a bad product, you assume it's you. In art school I used the Mac. Ther...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
When did it happen that you could send out something so complex like the iPhone without instructions?
That's what we try to do. I think for a lot of us, a large display that you can directly touch, seemed obvious and natural. It wasn't the case 9 years ago when we were first working on it.If it was inevitable and obvious we would've done it years ...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
Why did you go back to rounded edges on the iPhone?
Years ago we made prototypes with bigger screens. They were interesting features having a bigger screen, but the end result was a lousy product because they were clunky like a lot of competitors' phones are still. Years ago we realized this is goi...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
Can you remember a "eureka moment" in one of those design meetings?
 The phone that we just launched...there's a special moment when there's an object you can touch, and everything just shifts. I remain surprised and thrilled every time you get that first model.
What's your typical day like?
One of the advantages of being part of a design team that's been around for a long time is we've had the luxury to develop our process. We meet three or four times a week. The designers gather around the same kind of tablets you see in Apple Stor...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
How big is the design team?
Actually very small, 16 or 17 of us. It's grown steadily over the last 15 years. We've worked hard to keep it small.
What are the upsides and downsides of being Jony Ive?
Spending too much time with myself is the downside. Upside is having a great design team. No one has voluntarily left.
Is it hard to be patient with yourselves while investors and fans alike are clamoring for the next iThing?
It is hard for us all to be patient. It was hard for Steve. It is hard for Tim. At any point in time, working on something, it’s always hard to just keep focusing on the product. One of the things different between us and some of our competitors i...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
What is it like working with Mr. Cook? Can you give us any examples or anecdotes that demonstrate his leadership?
We meet on average three times a week. Sometimes those meetings are over in his space, sometimes here in the design studio. We all see the same physical object. Something happens between what we objectively see and what we perceive it to be. That’...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
You recently assumed leadership of software interface design. Has this altered the company’s design process?
I provide some leadership and direction in terms of user interface – a subset of software. Just as I work, I’m working in the same way with the user interface team. Just geographically, we’ve always been close. The core creative community is very ...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free
What does innovation culture look like at Apple under Tim Cook? How has it changed, if at all?
Innovation at Apple has always been a team game. It has always been a case where you have a number of small groups working together. The industrial design team is a very small team. We’ve worked together, most for 15 or 20 years. That’s a fairly ...This knowledge is worth millions but signing up is free