Apple Inc.’s Design Chief Jonathan Ive: ‘Simplicity Isn’t Simple’

‘My work is all about simplicity,’ confessed Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief, in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph.

Apple’s design guru Jonathan Ive, who receives a knighthood today for creating products such as the iPad,said that the quest for simplicity has to pervade every part of the process. Photo: Sembilan Serba/Flickr

“Design is a word that’s come to mean so much that it’s also a word that has come to mean nothing. We don’t really talk about design, we talk about developing ideas and making products,” said Jonathan Ive, the head of design for Apple.

His first product, created for Apple, the iMac, appeared in 1998. The device revolutionised Apple, which stood at the edge of bankruptcy at the time. The iPod, in 2001, went even further and transformed the record industry, writes The Telegraph.

The iPhone had a similar effect on the mobile phone business when it was launched in 2007. And the iPad, which debuted in 2010, is leading the way in a whole new category of computing. So, it’s quite hard to over-estimate the influence of Jonathan Ive.

“Designing and developing anything of consequence is incredibly challenging,” said Ive. “Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you’re not aware really of the solution, you’re not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved.”

Simplicity is one of the key words used by Ive , in conversation but he is keen to emphasise that it has a specific meaning:

“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”

He went on: “The quest for simplicity has to pervade every part of the process. It really is fundamental.”

A few days ago the senior vice-president of industrial design at Apple flew to Britain from the US with his wife and twin sons to receive the honour from the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.

“It has been wonderful. It was really thrilling and particularly humbling,” he shared with media sources after being made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for services to design and enterprise.

According to The Guardian, Ive revealed that he and Princess Anne had talked about how often he comes to the UK and about her iPad. When asked about the impact of his products on the modern world, Ive said:

“We don’t really spend much time thinking about our impact. We are fully consumed with trying to make the very best products that we can.”

One more knighted person was Sir Peter Bazalgette, 59, the TV programme-maker behind hit series including Big Brother, Ready Steady Cook, Changing Rooms and Ground Force.

He said it was a pleasure for him to be receiving a knighthood as he is the great-great-grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the civil engineer who was knighted in the 19th century for his work designing and overseeing the building of an enclosed sewer network for London. Bazalgette said his knighthood was a “huge honour”.

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