The world’s most famous industrial design lab is found at the ground floor of Apple’s corporate campus at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California. It’s arguably one of the most closely guarded offices on the planet. Even Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson was asked to interview Apple’s leading designer elsewhere most of the time. But one day in 2010, Jonathan Ive took the writer for a tour inside his design bunker. It holds “the future for the next three years”, the Briton told Isaacson. According to the just-released biography, the facility is as cutting-edge as cutting-edge gets.
Nobody gets past the guards without special access cards. The office has heavy locks and tinted windows. It features metallic gray decor and has powerful boom boxes that pump out techno and jazz music for a bunch of designers developing future design ideas. Expensive prototyping equipment can be seen inside and various machines to apply paint and make countless foam models of future products are everywhere.
Jobs would often visit Ive’s design lab to actively participate in the design process and his artistic sensibilities were crucial for Apple’s design prowess, Ive said:
In so many other companies, ideas and great design get lost in the process. The ideas that come from me and my team would have been completely irrelevant, nowhere, if Steve hadn’t been here to push us, work with us, and drive us through all the resistance to turn our ideas into products.
Apple’s design guru also tells how they often obsessed over the packaging for Apple products:
Steve and I spend a lot of time on the packaging. I love the process of unpacking something. You design a ritual of unpacking to make the product feel special. Packaging can be theater, it can create a story.
But it wasn’t all peachy. The designer would at times get upset with his late boss for “taking too much credit”, which didn’t sit well with Ive’s introvert personality and especially his careful consideration to always put his team’s efforts first and foremost: