Jony Ive Discusses Apple's Creative Design Processes

ive hero20110204In a rare interview, Apple design chief Jony Ive participated in a Q&A exchange with the London Evening Standard, offering his perspective on a number of topics including how the design process works at Apple.

Q: How does a new product come about at Apple?

A: What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but then the next day there is an idea. Where you see the most dramatic shift is when you transition from an abstract idea to a slightly more material conversation. But when you make a 3D model, however crude, you bring form to a nebulous idea and everything changes — the entire process shifts. It galvanises and brings focus from a broad group of people. It’s a remarkable process.

Ive talks more about how deeply prototyping is ingrained in the design process at Apple, and also discusses how Apple's approach of creating entirely new categories of products rather than simply improving on existing ones "exercises the skills" of Ive and his team.

It’s not a problem you’re aware of, nobody has articulated a need. But you start asking questions: what if we do this, combine it with that, would that be useful? This creates opportunities that could replace entire categories of device rather than tactically responding to an individual problem. That’s the real challenge and very exciting.

By trying to create new classes of products that people don't even realize they need until they are unveiled, the process results in incredible freedom and excitement, but significant challenges for the designers.

Top Rated Comments

FFArchitect Avatar
147 months ago
I think many would prefer Sir Jony Ive to present Apple's keynotes over Tim Cook, all due respect to Mr. Cook.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Magrão Avatar
147 months ago
Arise

That's Sir Jony Ive, to you! :D
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Confuzzzed Avatar
147 months ago
why do we look to deify people? He's a charismatic designer who hit it off with another charismatic visionary at the right time and at the right place and were able to make huge strides in consumer electronics. Lets celebrate that rather than look for Steve Jobs in every charismatic Apple employee. The company has become so big, it can no longer be run as a single man's domain.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
toddybody Avatar
147 months ago
Change the Constitution, Ive for President.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zwida Avatar
147 months ago
I think many would prefer Sir Jony Ive to present Apple's keynotes over Tim Cook, all due respect to Mr. Cook.

Agreed, although I think Sir Jony Ive prefers to stay in his studio/lab making the magic happen.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
147 months ago
Interesting the difference of starting points:

Jony Ive: "It’s not a problem you’re aware of, nobody has articulated a need. But you start asking questions: what if we do this, combine it with that, would that be useful? "

Open Source: "Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch."

Somehow I think Jony Ive's approach has worked better so far.


"Hey! Da Vinci - how do you do the great paintings?" "Well, I look, then I dip the brush in the paint and move it around on the canvas. Easy, no?".
"I start with a huge block of marble, and then I remove everything that doesn't belong there". Can't remember who said that.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)