📕 Book Review – Jony Ive The Genius Behind Apples Greatest Products
More biographies. More Apple.
Jony Ive, who’s been working inside Apple since the days of the Newton, has changed the way we view and work with computers and electronic devices. His new approach to the look, feel and interaction, has shifted us away from “beige boxes” to devices of gleaming white plastic, translucent materials, funky colors, aluminum, and who knows what’s next. His concepts of design language and aesthetic has influenced industries far beyond “tech.”
Going from near obscurity in the “basement” design lab of Apple, Jony reached celebrity status. Apple has gone from bulky, uninteresting devices to what many consider works of art.
Through this journey we see his process. A process open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. It worked in the past, but it can be done better for the future.
Jony iterates over a design hundreds of times, making changes, re-evaluating, and going in different directions if need be. When starting, everything is on the table. Moving forward, the lesser ideas get removed.
One of the things I found interesting is his desire to make a connection between the user and the device. That’s why there are deliberate design choices to touch the device. From the handle on the G3 iMac, to button placement, to curves, each intended to make a physical connection.
Another goal is to make designs that disappear. Meaning, when things work and feel right, you don’t notice them, you just use them. They have the right weight. They have the right feel. The buttons, icons, and layout all make sense. It feels natural and intuitive.
You can feel when designs are done just to be different. A UI that’s different rather than functional. A form factor that’s unusual rather than comfortable and usable. It’s jarring and uninviting.
“It’s easy to be different. It’s hard to be better.”
Because of his rise to prominence, and a very tight relationship with Steve Jobs, we also see a lot of rifts. Lots of clashes over ideas. Lots of debate over who’s in charge. Lots of frustration about who wielded the power.
In reality, Jony answered to no one. He had free reign. It was even rumored Jony would take over Apple. A dubious choice at best since Ive isn’t that kind of manager. It’s one thing to design products, it’s another to handle inventory, shipping, marketing, trade routes and product launches, etc, etc, etc. That’s not his strength.
It’s an interesting look into the man who arguable brought “design language” to popular use. How he literally shaped what computers look like. Then reshaped them.
I admire the willingness to try new ideas. Even if an idea is expensive or different, you should explore it. Not all ideas will be gems, but it’s better to try, fail and learn, than do nothing.
There is plenty of insight into the iPod, iPhone, iPad and of course the entire Mac line. It’s an intriguing process; how he approached the design, the choice of materials, even the invention of materials and process, and how Apple changed as a company based on his work.