In the age of gadgets and technology, no one can miss the immense presence of the company Apple. It is a name synonymous with sleek and stylish design, minimalist aesthetic, and a great user interface. The mention of Apple invariably invokes the name of Jonathan Ive, the genius Chief Design Officer that heads Apple’s software and hardware design.
Sir Jonathan Ive is an architect, product, and industrial designer from the UK. He was the Chief Designer for the technology giant Apple from 1992 to 2019, where he oversaw the product design, execution, and interface design for the company’s products. He completed his education in Art and Design from Northumbria University in the UK. He worked with Tangerine, an industrial design company for a few years before moving to Apple and becoming the company’s household designer-in-charge.
Ive’s truly iconic design symbolized Apple’s revival and return to prominence. Few designs have ever been so influential in technology, and Ive’s masterstroke with the translucent and colorful yet minimal and simple aesthetic was the key to Apple’s success.
He was awarded an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art in 2009 and Rhode Island School of Design. He is also appointed as the Royal Designer for Industry as well as Knighthood by the Queen of England.
Following are some iconic products by the brilliant designer:
1. iMac, 1998
The iMac was Jonathan Ive’s first major contribution to the technology giant, Apple. The iMac was described by Apple as the computer for the next millennium. A diversion from the otherwise grey boxes of the computers at the time, the translucent shell of the iMac was a breath through in technology design.
The iMac also marked Apple’s move away from legacy interfaces with the adoption of USB for the first time and the lack of a floppy-disc drive. Ive introduced the translucent shell in other products like the iBook G3, following the release of the iMac.
2. iPod, 2001
The iPod was a game-changer in the technology market because it was the amalgamation of small size and good capacity and a simple interface of only 5 buttons. The palette of materials for most Apple products was polycarbonate plastic, but the iPod introduced stainless body in the tech giant’s repertoire.
A marvel of interface and product design, the iPod had a profound impact on how people used electronics. Along with the “mother ship” application iTunes, the iPod reconfigured the way to buy, enjoy and shop music.
3. iPhone, 2007
Just like the iPod, the iPhone was a game-changer in the phone industry. The company’s first foray into the phone market, the iPhone revolutionized the concept of a phone. The iPhone was an iPod with a wider screen, touch screen interface, and inter browsing capabilities.
Over years, the iPhone has been updated many times and newer versions have seen massive improvements in the technology and user interface.
4. MacBook Air, 2008
The MacBook Air was described to be the “thinnest laptop in the world”. Its sleek design was overseen by Chief Designer for Apple, Jonathan Ive.
Over the years, many updates to the MacBook Air have made it one of the leaders in the technology industry.
5. iPad, 2010
“iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before”, said Apple CEO of the time, Steve Jobs. The iPad was the company’s foray into the tablet market, and it was essentially an enlarged iPhone.
However, keeping with the minimalist aesthetic of the company, the iPad was a no-fuss, simple device to cater to the needs of its users in a more intimate way.
6. iOS 7, 2013
The iOS 7 was designed by Ive to have an uncluttered experience. He believes that “Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity.” The iOs 7 was the first major update since Ive became the Chief Designer for hardware and software at Apple.
The update aimed to bring the software in the line with the minimal aesthetic of its phones, watches, computers, and iPods.
“I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity, in clarity, in efficiency,” said Ive at the time of the launch.
7. Apple Watch, 2014
The Apple Watch by Ive was intended to be more accessible than a phone. “So personal you don’t put it on your desk or in your pocket but you wear it on your wrist,” the designer said at the watch’s launch.
The watch features a touch screen square dial, with rounded edges, and can connect to the iPhone. Since it is a product to wear every day, its design is minimalistic and functional- the crux of Ive’s design philosophy.
8. Apple Park, 2017
The famed doughnut-shaped headquarters of Apple at Cupertino, California is designed by Foster + Partners and was overseen by Ive.
“A lot of the buildings that are being built at the moment are products of software-only cultures. [But] we understand making,” said Ive, on a campus tour in 2017.
Because Ive is a household name for Apple, many of his products outside of the tech giant are not very well known.
The prolific industrial designer has designed some unusual products outside of Apple, which are listed below:
9. The Brian Drumm Flatliner comb, 2010
The barber’s comb was designed by Ive a few years before he joined Apple. It is one of his earlier works and demonstrates Ive’s expertise in designing incredible solutions for everyday products. The Brian Drumm Flatliner comb is made in lightweight grey colored plastic with a built-in spirit level on the top.
The comb has lightweight construction which is due to the use of two plastic cases uniting to form a hollow yet rigid handle. The visibility of the join is reduced by its placement on the transition from the elliptical side to the low profile of the handle.
The spirit level in the handle ensures a perfect cut with clippers held in the other hand. All these elements come together to transform a simple object into a well-designed product with flawless execution.
10. Leica Camera, 2013
Jonathan Ive along with Australian Industrial Designer Marc Newson, designed a Leica Digital Rangefinder camera, for a charitable auction in 2013. The camera was sold for a whopping $1.8 million and the proceeds went to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The camera is an update to the Leica M. model, which was the brand’s digital camera launched in 2012. The design is super sleek, and the designers went through almost 550 models before finalizing the product.
Ive, who was the Chief Designer for Apple till 2019, replaced the usual Leica’s rough-textured body with a smooth anodized aluminium body, making it a sleek smooth, almost toy-like product, which is what we imagine an iCamera would look like.
11. Custom stand for a US Space Shuttle thermal window, 2013
Another product for the RED auction in 2013, Ive designed a unique custom stand for the US Space Shuttle window. Along with Marc Newson, the stand was designed for the space shuttle window so that the window could be displayed as an object in its own right.
The stand is a seamless aluminium stand made for the Corning Code 7980 fused silica glass window. Corning Incorporated supplied all the windows for the NASA Space Shuttle program because of the company’s astonishing history of innovation and perfection.
Since the window has a wonderful design in itself, the pair designed the aluminium stand which reflects their passion for space exploration. It was sold for 845,000 USD at the RED Auction.
12. The “RED” Desk, 2013
The “RED” Desk is another exclusive item in a range of products designed by Ive and Newson for Bono’s (RED) Charity Auction of 2013. It is an aluminium desk, the surface of which is covered by 185 interlocking cells.
The desk has a thin, sleek look and its blade-like legs and top are made of solid pieces of aluminium, manufactured by the company Neal Feay Studio.
The exclusive Desk is inscribed, “Designed by Jony Ive & Marc Newson for (RED) 2013 edition 01/01″ and was sold for 1.685 million USD.
13. Diamond ring, 2018
The all-diamond (RED) ring was exclusively designed by Ive and Newson for the RED Charity Auction in 2018. The ring is was cut from a single, homogeneous block of diamond, grown by Diamond Foundry; it uses plasma reactor technology to “grow” a stone through a scientific process. This process allows the stone to be large enough so that the ring can be an intricate piece without any metal bands.
The ring, which was sold for $256,250, is the world’s first wearable, all-diamond ring. The finished ring perfectly reflects the blueprinted design, with 2,000 to 3,000 facets, never before seen on a single piece.