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.

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
Apple Pay Later feature 1

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Monday June 17, 2024 11:44 am PDT by
Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. Apple Pay Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app. Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that...
iOS 18 CarPlay Feature

iOS 18 Adds These 5 New Features to CarPlay

Thursday June 13, 2024 7:44 am PDT by
Apple did not mention CarPlay during its WWDC keynote this week, but iOS 18 includes a handful of new features for the in-car software. Overall, there is not a whole lot new for CarPlay on iOS 18, with changes seemingly limited to the Messages and Settings apps so far. Below, we recap everything new for CarPlay on iOS 18. New for CarPlay on iOS 18 1. Contact Photos in Messages App...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

FFArchitect Avatar
160 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
160 months ago
Arise

That's Sir Jony Ive, to you! :D
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Confuzzzed Avatar
160 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
160 months ago
Change the Constitution, Ive for President.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zwida Avatar
160 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
160 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)