Jony Ive: What were his best bits at Apple?

The infamous Apple designer Jony Ive has finally quit the technology giant. The removal of his image from Apple’s leadership page ends a famed 27-year career, in which he oversaw some of the most iconic technology projects ever conceived.
Jony Ive Apple
Jony Ive has become one of the most renowned designers in the world during his 27 years at Apple.

Mysterious departure

Ive led Apple’s design team from 1996, but his departure from the company was somewhat mysterious. No one knows quite why this has occurred, with both parties keeping quiet on the matter, while the June press release originally announcing I’ve departure only indicated that it woud occur “later this year.”

In recent years, Ive had become preoccupied with the design and construction of Apple’s new headquarters. But the designer’s legacy will undoubtedly be focused on the tech products that he designed, which have come to define Apple as a corporation, and help reshape the consumer electronics landscape, and even human society.

It is difficult to attribute one defining success to Ive, as he was involved with pretty much every major Apple product of the last 25 years, and was afforded a status within the company that no other designer has ever been allowed. So influential was his work that many regard him as the most important designer of the post-Second World War period.

Jony Ive
The original iMac, released in 1998, had a transformative impact on design in computing. Photo: Marcin Wichary via Flickr.

Jettisoning products

One of the key decisions that Ive took in his early years at Apple was to cancel product lines that weren’t up to speed. Ive was instrumental in the ethos of Apple to attempt to produce premium products of quality, with ergonomic design, rather than mass produce cheap goods, and pile them as high as possible.

Thus, Ive scrapped the Newton, simplified Apple’s range of Macs, and then announced was is still probably his crowning achievement – the first teardrop-shaped iMac. This design became emblematic of Apple’s return to form and relevance, with its design aesthetic often imitated since, but never equalled.

While many would cite the original iPhone as being a defining product for Apple, and it certainly has been financially, the iPod music player was arguably more important in helping establish the direction of the company, and its distinctive branding. Launched in October, 2001, the iPod did something truly ground-breaking at the time, and even though there were other digital music players around, the iPod was the slickest, the sexiest, and the best.

Jony Ive
The iPod was critical in establishing the future direction of Apple, when it was released in 2001. Photo: Wikimedia.

Chief designer

In 2015, Ive was promoted to chief design officer at Apple, and has since been formally responsible for all aspects of design at Apple. Ive has driven Apple to produce ever sleeker products, with the iPhone design that has been essentially copied by every other mobile phone manufacturer, and the incredibly compact, yet still powerful, desktop iMac particular standouts.

Ive is possibly even more responsible than founder Steve Jobs for the way that we perceive Apple and its products today. It was his vision that created the Apple aesthetic, influenced as he is by the Bauhaus design tradition. Ive made Apple an iconic brand, and ensured that its products were instantly recognizable by people all over the world – and there can be no greater achievement for a designer than this.

With an estimated worth of $400 million, Ive has come a long way since he attended Newcastle Polytechnic, and it will be intriguing to see what he does next.

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