Vogue has published a new interview with Jony Ive, covering the life of the designer from his beginnings to the present day. Whilst many of the stories are simply retellings of previous interviews, the piece discusses Ive’s relationship with Marc Newson and — most importantly — Ive comments on the new Apple Watch. Apparently, Sullivan (the Vogue interviewer) was allowed to see the watch several weeks before the September 9th public unveiling.
When Ive shows it to me—weeks before the product’s exhaustive launch, hosted by new CEO Tim Cook—in a situation room that has us surrounded by guards, it feels like a matter of national security. Yet despite all the pressure, he really just wants you to touch it, to feel it, to experience it as a thing. And if you comment on, say, the weight of it, he nods. “Because it’s real materials,” he says proudly. Then he wants you to feel the connections, the magnets in the strap, the buckle, to witness the soft but solid snap, which he just loves as an interaction with design, a pure, tactile idea. “Isn’t that fantastic?”
Ive once again mentions that Apple Watch development began over three years ago. Cook has previously said that work on the project started just after Jobs died, in October 2011. In the interview, Ive discusses the evolution of watches and how the wristwatch concept was actually very late to the game relatively.
He also touches on how he believes Apple Watch will enable new forms of communication, referencing the drawing, walkie-talkie and emoticon features.
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“You know how very often technology tends to inhibit rather than enable more nuanced, subtle communication?” he asks. This is the question that haunts the son of a craftsman: Is he making tools that improve the world or shut people down? “We spent a lot of time working on this special mechanism inside, combined with the built-in speaker” —he demonstrates on his wrist. You can select a chosen person, also wearing the watch, and transmit your pulse to them. “You feel this very gentle tap,” he says, “and you can feel my heartbeat. This is a very big deal, I think. It’s being able to communicate in a very gentle way.”
The interviewer recalls how Ive obsessed over the sound of the buckles and bands of the Watch in the private demonstration room. It definitely gives the impression that Ive loves this product on a whole different level to other Apple devices.
“You just press this button and it slides off, and that is just gorgeous,” he was saying. He encouraged you to pause. “But listen as it closes,” he said. “It makes this fantastic k-chit.” He was nearly whispering. And when he said the word fantastic, he said it softly and slowly—“fan-tas-tic!”—as if he never wanted it to end.