With Apple’s $199/$299 Designed by Apple in California photo book having received mixed reactions, Jony Ive told Dazed that the company didn’t necessarily actively want to create the book, but felt obligated to do so. This follows an earlier interview with a Japanese design website.
We started the project about eight years ago, with the feeling that we had a responsibility to try and create an archive of what we’ve done. Honestly, it felt more of an obligation than something that we felt really compelled to do. The reason for that, and I guess it’s a fairly obvious one, is that as designers, we are far more interested in and consumed by the future; in what doesn’t exist yet. But we’ve been working together for 20, 25 years, and it felt like the right and appropriate thing to do. You get a sense of what we’ve learned as a team and of how technology is evolving.
He also said that there were times when the design team really felt that the iPhone project wasn’t going to work out …
The scariest thing is how a very fragile idea, a very vulnerable idea can become an incredibly powerful, influential and profound product. There were multiple stages while we were working on the phone when solving problems wasn’t inevitable and we really did have concerns that it wasn’t viable, that it wasn’t going to work.
He gave the example of how placing a touchscreen against your ear created problems that they were ultimately only able to solve with a combination of hardware (light sensor) and software solutions.
Ive also addressed the oft-raised criticism that Apple’s pace of innovation is too slow.
There can be completely disproportional efforts that are required that make one step forward in one area and require the most extraordinary focus and effort and investment to make what may appear a relatively incremental improvement. Then you can have other areas where there could be extraordinary progress, but yes I think the challenge is that things don’t all share a uniform velocity in their development.
He also repeated a point he often makes: that it’s easy to create something that’s new, much harder to create something that’s better.
Ive said that Steve Jobs’ influence was still very much present in this regard: being willing to wait for all the pieces of the puzzle to come together to create the perfect solution.
There’s an unseen part of the discipline which is, ‘Okay look there’s a technology here that has this affordance that means we could do this, but we can’t yet because we need technology A, B and C, or we need this new material that doesn’t exist right now’. So we put things to one side, knowing that at some point we will carry on working on them again. There are things that we would partially prototype, that we couldn’t complete.
Ive also said that the battered iPhone seen on page 135 of the book belongs to one of the designers in the studio who ‘destroys her objects.’
The release of the book seems to have created renewed interest in the rather more affordable book Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation, the latest edition of which is shown as out of stock but can be ordered in anticipation of new stock.