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Jony Ive talks about the link between design and engineering, the need for failure, and more

Yoni Heisler, @edibleapple
November 17, 2014
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While Jony Ive used to be Apple's quiet man behind the scenes, occasionally popping up in Apple-produced videos shown at Apple media events, it's now hard to keep tabs on Ive's numerous appearances and speaking engagements. One second he's conducting an interview with BusinessWeek, and the next week he's being profiled in Vogue, and the next minute he's sitting down for a 30 minute interview with Vanity Fair.

The latest stop on Ive's recent publicity train was the Design Museum of London where the Apple design chief sat down for an illuminating conversation with Deyan Sudjic, the museum's director.

Hibbert Harwood, a design consulting group, was in attendance and thankfully helped recap the wide ranging discussion. The entire summary is worth checking out, but this particular excerpt on the close link between design and engineering is worth highlighting.

Jony said it is vital to Apple that they work very closely with their manufacturers and they are always visiting the manufacturers to see how things are working and how a material is behaving so they can fully understand how something works and use this to lead their design. When they discovered that the milled aluminium shell of the iPhone would blunt the CNC cutters very quickly, instead of doing things a different way, they worked with the manufacturers and designed a cutter line to combine with the CNC and produce one seamless process. At Apple [they] spend a large amount of their time on designing the inside of the phones when 99% of people will never actually see the inside. This is because Jony believes this care and attention to detail can be sensed by the customer and is what makes a great product and I can't disagree with him.

The museum has said that it has no plans to release video of the interview, but Joseph Shaffery managed to write down a few choice quotes from Ive's interview..

On the constant need for iteration and experimentation, Ive said:

... if we are not failing we are not pushing. 80% in the studio is not going to work. If something is not good enough, stop doing it.

Regarding companies who use Apple designs as "inspiration" (ahem, Xiaomi), Ive, again, doesn't view this as a flattering compliment.

Eight years of work can be copied in six months. It wasn't inevitable that it was going to work. A stolen design is stolen time. Is it flattering?... No

A few weeks ago, Ive expanded on the topic during his sit-down interview with Vanity Fair.

There is a danger...I don't see it as flattery. I see it as theft. When you're doing something for the first time and you don't know it's going to work. I have to be honest the last thing I think is "Oh, that is flattering. All those weekends I could've been home with my family...I think it's theft and lazy. I don't think it's OK at all.







In this article: design, jony ive
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