Jony Ive, Apple’s revered Senior Vice President of Design, is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). The 2014 SFMOMA award will be presented to Ive on October 30th, and Ive will follow a legendary list of previous recipients that includes Star Wars creator George Lucas. In a statement, the Museum calls Ive “our generation’s most innovative and influential figure in the field of industrial design:”

“Ive is our generation’s most innovative and influential figure in the field of industrial design—no other design mind has done more to transform the way we visualize and share information,” said SFMOMA director Neal Benezra in a statement issued yesterday. “SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast to establish a department of architecture and design, and we’re thrilled to celebrate Ive’s revolutionary achievements.” With a significant collection of 20th- and 21st-century consumer electronics, the department is now engaged in a long-term investigation of how best to collect, maintain, and interpret those holdings in dialogue with leading Bay Area–based designers including Ive.

This is the not the first time that Ive will be honored by a Museum of Modern Art. The New York-based MOMA previously honored Ive with a gallery showcasing an assortment of the designer’s most iconic works:

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.36.26 AM

Ive commented on receiving the Lifetime Achievment award:

“I’ve always enjoyed visiting SFMOMA, and I think it represents exceptional contemporary art and design,” said Ive. “I’m very grateful to the museum and proud to be recognized among such an amazing list of past recipients.”

Ive is also no stranger to receiving awards and acknowledgment for his accomplishments in design. In late 2011, Ive was awarded knighthood in his home-country of the United Kingdom, and Apple has made Ive available for several high-profile interviews over the past couple of years. Additionally, Ive was awarded an interesting Blue Peter award:

Ive’s design team has also been honored, with the 16-member team recently flying out to as a group to receive a design award in the United Kingdom. Ive has taken a larger role at Apple in recent years, gaining Human Interface leadership responsibility late in 2012 and then expanding his role to cover all software design earlier this year.

Ive is not the only Apple executive to receive a Lifetime Achievement award: late last year, Auburn University honored Apple CEO Tim Cook with a Lifetime Achievement award.

(Top image of Ive via Getty Images)

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11 Responses to “San Francisco MOMA to honor Apple’s Jony Ive with Lifetime Achievement award”

  1. John Smith says:

    I’d see this as appropriate.

    Ive’s ‘design’ is equivalent to modern art. Square piles of bricks. Plain white canvas with blobs of colour thrown on.

    Whether any of it is practical in a phone or computer is another matter.

    Example? iPhone 4 – a phone made of glass that will shatter if you drop it but so slippy you can’t hold onto it – such great ‘design’ that you rarely see one without some sort of aftermarket case on it. I loved it at the time, but that was the OS, and I now realise that was not down to Ive.

    Unfortunately he’s now investing thousands of man hours in turning OSX into his opinion of ‘art’

    Perhaps the plain white and blobs of colour should be in MOMA, rather than on our laptops?


    • rogifan says:

      You do realize that Steve Jobs was involved with and signed off on the iPhone 4 design? And pray tell what’s practical (never mind beautiful) about faux leather, felt, glass and wood grain?


      • John Smith says:

        Sure, but slippery glass phone was Ive.

        Thinking of all the people I know who have iPhone 4/4S, or had one, I really can’t think of a single one who was so pleased with that ‘design’ they left it proudly on display. Everyone paid extra for a case.

        Not that bothered about the fake felt etc – can live without it, but does getting rid of that mean we need Ive to wreck whole operating systems?

        I’d sooner apple – for example – went systematically through it’s own support forums and fixed all the ongoing issues people have been reporting/discussing, sometimes for months or even years. (Here’s just one of them –


      • rogifan says:

        What do you mean it was Ive? You don’t think Steve Jobs signed off on it? I remember 2010 WWDC and Steve spent a considerable amount of time on the design of iPhone 4. There is no doubt he approved every single piece of that phone.


      • thejuanald says:

        I feel that Ive quote about him being upset about Jobs taking credit for his designs would fit appropriately here:

        “”He [Jobs] will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, ‘That’s no good. That’s not very good. I like that one,'” Ive told Isaacson. “And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea. I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when he takes credit for one of my designs.”

        Ive was also upset when people outside the company saw Jobs as Apple’s only idea man.

        “That makes us vulnerable as a company,” Ive said to Isaacson.”

        Also, Ive definitely deserves the award! Congrats to him.


    • Art and design is subjective by definition—for someone to have his or her achievements recognised by an accredited body is a notable highlight to his/her career, despite anyone’s armchair critiques on the matter.

      The beauty of an open market is that we have the choice to purchase products which meet our requirements, aesthetically, functionally or otherwise.

      By extension, an open market means those suffering with xerodermia or similar conditions have a range of emollients available from their local chemist which should sort grip issues, should they not wish to obscure their phones beneath third party cases imprinted with digital images of cats, sunflowers etc.

      As well, those with any sense will have suitable insurance coverage for their phone, should it smash on the floor, or end up in a pint glass or toilet.

      John—I’m not certain how industrial design relates to piles of bricks or abstract impressionism (neither of which are to my taste). With this in mind, I would be most interested in viewing a portfolio of your own recognised design work, particularly relating to interface design, as this would bring some context to your views. OS X has not changed notably in more than a decade, and, although a good number of people are resistant to change, far fewer will disagree that a refresh is due.


      • John Smith says:

        Only people with an extensive portfolio entitled to express an opinion?

        If an expensive product is so poorly designed you can’t hold it – buy some sticky ointment to make your hand grip?

        If the product keeps breaking – buy insurance?


        ‘Design’ must incorporate the functional. I’m not a designer but, strangely enough, I work in an organisation which has me surrounded by people doing this – for example high end cars/automobiles that you see every day. Good design looks good, but it also went through aerodynamic evaluation, extensive ergonomic testing (simulation and on the road), etc etc etc It goes on for months/years and much of it is far from ‘subjective’ The product has to look good and it has to work. It has to work when it hits the market – not on version The good designers know how to incorporate the aerodynamic testing (and the aerodynamics guys know how to develop near invisible changes to the design) Unsurprisingly there is more to it than ‘ooh – I like the look of that’

        If Ive can only come up with products which – in some people’s subjective opinion – look good, then we are back to my original point … his work belongs in an art gallery.


      • A good number of surgeons suffer from the drying effects of hand hygiene which of course makes most modern phones prone to slipping—E45 is quite effective at remedying this condition without leaving a sticky residue. With the correct moisture balance restored to the skin, iPhones are no more slippery than similarly constructed competitors. Or consider a 5c which would likely survive use as a clay pigeon.

        My original post was meant to be taken somewhat tongue-in-cheek—sorry that was missed (there is a broader selection of cases available than those featuring cats and sunflowers)…

        But let’s not get carried away. I’ve dropped every phone I’ve owned at one time or another, and I’ve been quite fortunate never to have broken the glass etc despite never using a case. Equally, plenty of people have managed to smash their phones, regardless of the design. If there is a way to break something, people will find it. As you mentioned, an iPhone is an expensive product—it’s only sensible to insure expensive possessions, not just for accidental breakage, but for loss or theft! If the day comes that mine goes under the wheels of a bus, one phone call and a shiny new phone will be couriered to me within 24 hours—nothing over which to lose sleep.

        Now John—you are indeed entitled to your opinion. However, in your original post you quite clearly anticipate your dissatisfaction with Jonathan Ive’s expected refresh of the OS X interface. At best, to this point, you would only have seen the usual mockups designed by keen fans, representing their personal visions of the future design of the OS—perhaps it’s a bit early to prejudge the end result? However, using iOS 7 as an example, like many people I found the refresh offensive at first, but after a few days began to warm to it. Now, looking back, iOS 6 looks antiquated in comparison—the update looks fresh and modern.

        My field is corporate branding which is a very specialised corner of the design industry, far, far away from the world of industrial design, but many of the same principles apply. I have a certain appreciation of Apple’s precise attention to detail and find the functionality and usability of many of their devices satisfactory (and certainly more homogenous and consistent than most of their competitors). Clearly many people agree, as Apple consistently moves an enormous volume of product. And it’s worth noting a few howlers through the years, such as the original iMac mouse, iTunes bloatware etc.

        Back to the original topic—Jonathan Ive being recognised for his achievements—his portfolio consists of a vast number of bestselling devices featuring his designs. No one can argue the numbers, and for that reason, his recognition is well deserved. That’s the point of lifetime achievement awards!


  2. If by art, we mean something that makes me want to scream in horror, because it is devoid of detail and attention to realism. Then sure, call it art. We call so many things art, but I won’t buy it.