Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, the man credited with having most of the design of all Apple products at the palm of his hand, has been promoted to chief design officer.
The title than Jon Ive is leaving is that of senior vice-president of design. Ive is by far the most talked about and popular designer in the tech space. Yves Behar is perhaps the only man that rivals him for such a title. Ive is known for being the main brain behind Apple’s unique industrial design aesthetic over the past decades, working under both CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook.
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The move will see him retain control over industrial design and user interface divisions at Apple.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Ive said that the new role will afford him more time to actually design things because he is shedding administrative and management duties to his new underlings, Richard Howarth and Alan Dye.
Ive is known to obsess over details, sometime for weeks on end, even months until he and his team design something he feels is worth. This obsession for detail shines through when you look at the MacBook Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, Mac mini, iPod, iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini, Apple Watch and iOS.
The products are not without faults, but the design is quite impeccable, from the actual products to the packaging. He also has the difficult task of competing with leaks of the designs as it has happened in the past. There is also the fight to fend off imitators. Last year, Jony Ive came out and said that imitating Apple designs is not flattery but plain out lazy and theft. Apple itself imitates but Ive is at a somewhat favourable position that even when Apple imitates other designs, it holds the power to affect the industry more than the originators have.
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Ive’s unsurmountable hunger for design is hard to match even design schools are struggling, at least according to him. In an address that Ive gave at the London Design Museum late last year he lamented that design schools are failing to teach students how to make physical products and this makes it difficult for him to hire people.
“So many of the designers that we interview don’t know how to make stuff, because workshops in design schools are expensive and computers are cheaper,” Ive said. “That’s just tragic, that you can spend four years of your life studying the design of three dimensional objects and not make one.”
In that same address Ive made his feelings about the design philosophies quite clear
“We won’t do something different for different’s sake. Designers cave in to marketing, to the corporate agenda, which is sort of ‘oh it looks like the last one, can’t we make it look different?’ Well no, there’s no reason to. We have a strong philosophy – you could call it formulaic or you could say it’s a philosophy – and we will develop product to that philosophy. When some big things change, the objects will appear different, the objects will be made from other materials. But I think it’s wrong to make something different for the sake of being different.” Ive said.
image by Simon Q
In an email published by 9to5mac, Tim Cook tells Apple employees about Jony Ive’ promotional, pointing out that
“Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.” Cooks writes.
Cooks further explains that Ive will remain responsible for all of Apple designs, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives.
Ive’s promotion also sees Richard Howarth becoming new vice president of Industrial Design and Alan Dye becoming new vice president of User Interface Design. The new appointments start on 1 July 2015.