Jonathan Ive Talks Design, Failure, and More in Appearance at London's Design Museum

Jonathan Ive, Apple's Senior VP of Design, made a rare public appearance at the Design Museum in London yesterday (via Cult of Mac). At the event, he discussed everything from his view on the future of design to his opinions on failure with museum director Deyan Sudjic.

We shouldn’t be afraid to fail - if we are not failing we are not pushing. 80% of the stuff in the studio is not going to work. If something is not good enough, stop doing it.

The talk with Sudjic also included a roomful of up-and-coming design students, with Ive offering additional perspective on the design process and rejection.

"The best ideas start as conversations. A small change at the beginning of the design process defines an entirely different product at the end. At the start of the process the idea is just a thought - very fragile and exclusive. When the first physical manifestation is created everything changes. It is no longer exclusive, now it involves a lot of people." Ive also mentioned, "There are 9 rejected ideas for every idea that works."

jony_ive_design_museum

Photo by @nickcorston)

Unfortunately for those design hopefuls listening to Ive, the odds of working in his team are slim. Apple's Industrial Design team is notoriously difficult to get into, in large part because its members never leave the company. The eighteen-person team hasn't seen a single member leave for fifteen years. "I like to work in a small team," Ive told Sudjic. "There is only 18 of us on the design team. Nobody has ever left."

Ive also touched on how to gain experience in the field, design studies in schools today, and the difference between making something different and making it better.

Our goal is to desperately make the best products we can. We’re not naive. We trust that if we’re successful and we make good products, that people will like them. And we trust that if people like them, they’ll buy them. And we figured out the operation and we’re effective. We know what we’re doing, so we’ll make money, but it’s a tough sequence.

Ive has famously remained out of the spotlight for much of his tenure at Apple, but has opened up considerably since taking on new responsibilities for software design and more recently with the impending launch of the Apple Watch. Recent appearances have included an awards ceremony hosted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and a Vanity Fair summit in San Francisco.

Update: Dezeen also has a very thorough overview of Ive's interview.

Top Rated Comments

hipnetic Avatar
121 months ago
Seems fitting. When it comes to user interface design, Ive is an expert on Design Failure.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KdParker Avatar
121 months ago
Hey, I've seen what they do to people who want to leave in Sons of Anarchy and mob movies :D

Quote:
The eighteen-person team hasn't seen a single member leave for fifteen years

All jokes aside. I think it is a bad idea to have a design team that has been so static for almost a generation.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rGiskard Avatar
121 months ago
Here's a few quotes that were left out:

"If a design overheats and throttles the GPU (https://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1815601) so hard it performs worse than the previous generation, then that's the price of beauty. Nothing is free, deal with it!"


"Form is paramount, ergonomics are for dork engineers. If a user must give his computer a reach around to access an SD Card reader, then that is the price of thin."

"If a user can access the diabolical innards of a design, then it is a failure. The ultimate goal is a perfectly sealed disposable computer, because we here at Apple love the environment and want to change the world!"
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Knowledge Navigator Avatar
121 months ago
The best ideas start as conversations.
TC: Let's make a watch. Let's make some really... expensive... watches.
JI: Do you like gold?
TC: Sure!
JI: See you in two years, Tim.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
H2SO4 Avatar
121 months ago
"There are 9 rejected ideas for every idea that works." Lesson to Samsung: get rid of the half-baked concepts and ideas *before* you get to production.

Jeez. Someone had to lower the thread to Samsung bashing. Can we just leave it alone for even one article?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MellowFuzz Avatar
121 months ago
Quote:
The eighteen-person team hasn't seen a single member leave for fifteen years

All jokes aside. I think it is a bad idea to have a design team that has been so static for almost a generation.

Their marketing must be as static, which would explain why Apple thinks U2 is cool.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro Notch

Apple's OLED Roadmap: New iPad Mini, Foldable iPad Pro, and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to launch at least nine new devices with OLED displays across the iPad and MacBook product lines, according to an updated forecast from research firm Omdia that sets out the company's plans in detail. As widely rumored, Apple's push to transition to OLED will apparently be jump-started by the release of new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models this year. The displays will...
Next Generation CarPlay Porsche 1

Apple Launching Next-Generation CarPlay This Year With These New Features

Wednesday February 21, 2024 2:03 pm PST by
Apple recently updated its website to confirm that the first vehicle models with next-generation CarPlay support will debut "in 2024." This wording is shown on Apple's regional websites for the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. The iOS 17.4 beta includes code-level references to eight new CarPlay apps:Auto Settings: This app will let you manage paired iPhones...
iPhone Notch

Apple Explored These Notch and Dynamic Island Designs for iPhones

Friday February 23, 2024 2:05 pm PST by
With the iPhone 14 Pro models in 2022, Apple introduced the Dynamic Island, which can morph and expand to display system alerts, sports scores, and a variety of other information. The feature makes the space surrounding the front camera and Face ID sensors useful compared to the notch on older iPhone models. Apple explored a variety of ideas for the iPhone's notch area over the years before...
cracked glass vision pro

Handful of Apple Vision Pro Units Develop Identical Crack in Cover Glass

Friday February 23, 2024 4:46 am PST by
A small number of Apple Vision Pro owners have claimed that their headsets developed a hairline crack down the middle of the front cover glass, despite having never been dropped or mishandled. Photo of hairline crack in Vision Pro front glass (credit: Reddit user Inphenite) The first report was posted in the subreddit /r/VisionPro about 18 days ago, and several more have appeared in the last...
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...