Jony Ive is Still ‘Completely Enchanted by the Creative Process’ and Talks About Early Design at Apple

Jony Ive is one of the most familiar names out there, especially for folks who love to talk about design in and out of the tech universe.

Ive has been a major presence at Apple for years, and has been part of some of the biggest breakthroughs at the company in that time. The design chief was recently awarded the 2018 Stephen Hawking Fellowship, and was invited to provide the fellowship award’s lecture at The Cambridge Union on Monday. This is the University of Cambridge’s debate society, and a report published by the United Kingdom’s The Independent, outlines some of the major talking points that Ive touched on in his lecture.

“Jony Ive, as everyone calls him, made a speech that was intellectually rich but still accessible, dense with ideas and fascinating. He spoke eloquently, gently, even tenderly, about the creative process and the importance of listening to the quietest voice. Throughout, he was open and humble, repeatedly revealing the curiosity which is a central part of doing his work.”

Ive, if given the opportunity, can cover a lot of ground and the lecture was no different. He spoke on technology, design, and the early days at Apple. For instance, Ive tells a story about using a Mac for the first time and how it not only helped him create, but how the design and functionality of the computer made him see something beyond the “functional imperative” of devices:

“With the Mac, in 1988, I think I learned two things. Firstly, I could actually use it. I loved using it and it became a very powerful tool that helped me design and create. Secondly, and I think this is in some ways a rather embarrassing admission because this was at the end of four years of studying design, I realised that what you make represents who you are.

It stands testament to your values and your preoccupations, and using the Mac I sensed a clear and direct connection with the people who actually created the Macintosh. For the first time, I remember being moved by obvious humanity and care beyond just the functional imperative.”

It was the use of that Mac that led Ive to want to discover more about the people working at Apple, which ultimately led him to take a trip to California in 1992 and join the company.

Ive digs into his time at Apple, talking about how he spends his time there working on whatever’s coming down the pipe. He talks about the fragility of an idea, and how, ultimately, it can be a small thought or quiet voice that leads to something pretty fantastic:

“I spend my time at Apple in that intersection of art and technology. I think that, almost by definition, ideas are fragile. If they were resolved, if they were robust, they wouldn’t be ideas any more, they would be shipping products, a finished album, a completed building. I’m not really entirely sure why, but I think I’ve always taken an enormous delight when the most tentative thought, often from the quietest voice, evolves into significant and substantial products.”

One of the best stories is the work that led to the multitouch technology that helped the original iPhone stand out more than a decade ago:

“This was a project that we came to describe as multi-touch. Some of you may remember the first time you experienced the interface. Perhaps it was on one of the first iPhones or later on an iPad. But multi-touch describes the ability to directly touch and interact with your content to be able to pinch to zoom an image or flick through a list with your fingers.

Importantly, it defined an opportunity to create applications with their own unique, very specific interface. So, not being generic but being specific inherently describes the application’s function. We came to see that we could make applications purposeful, compelling and intuitive to use. And so, as the potential for a vast range of apps became clear, so did the idea for an app store.

In reality, the supporting technology, the enabling technology, took years to catch up with the ideas. And I have to say the ideas posed problems and defined challenges, but in the process, we came close to giving up on a number of occasions.”

The full writeup on the Ive’s lecture is available through the source link below and it is absolutely worth a read.

[via The Independent]