Apple’s Lead Designer Reveals The Secrets Behind Products & Processes

Jony Ive shares insights about the company’s design values and rules in a recent Q&A.

Sir Jonathan (Jony) Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, was the focus of a recent Q&A with the London Evening Standard where he talked about Apple’s design process. Wired has picked out the 5 most interesting insights from the company’s lead designer:

  • Apple’s product design follows a semi-traditional workflow: “When you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation. But when you made a 3D model, however crude, you bring form to a nebulous idea, and everything changes – the entire process shifts.”
  • Apple sticks to categories they can add real value to and stays away from those it can’t: “Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it. Most of our competitors are interesting in doing something different, or want to appear new — I think those are completely the wrong goals. A product has to be genuinely better. This requires real discipline, and that’s what drives us — a sincere, genuine appetite to do something that is better.”
  • They are very confident about their product design: “We don’t do focus groups — that is the job of the designer. It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”
  • Their goal and how Ive knows they’ve succeeded: “Our goal is simple objects, objects that you can’t imagine any other way. Simplicity is not the absence of clutter. Get it right, and you become closer and more focused on the object. For instance, the iPhoto app we created for the new iPad, it completely consumes you and you forget you are using an iPad.”
  • They work hard to overcome challenges prior to a product’s release: “Some of the problem solving in the iPad is really quite remarkable, there is this danger you want to communicate this to people. I think that is a fantastic irony, how oblivious people are to the acrobatics we’ve performed to solve a problem — but that’s our job, and I think people know there is tremendous care behind the finished product.”

Wired: “The iMan cometh”

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