The upcoming spring/summer 2019 edition of Document Journal includes a fascinating new conversation between Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and Kim Jones, Creative Director for fashion brand Dior Men since 2018. Ahead of the magazine’s release in May, the full interview has been published online and is filled with observations from the two designers.
Well-timed with Apple’s Earth Day celebrations, Ive discussed the environmental responsibilities of design at length. He highlighted the accomplishments of Apple’s VP of environment Lisa Jackson, noting that if your design responsibilities begin with the right motivations and values, everything else has a tendency to fall in line. Ive added that being an innovative company reveals significant challenges:
The much more complex responsibilities are in the realm of the social and the cultural because, by definition, if you’re innovating and doing something new, there will be consequences you can’t foresee. One of the most important things is where you say your responsibility is, chronologically. I don’t think it ends when you ship a product. If you make something new, and there are unforeseen consequences, you have a responsibility to respond to those.
Speaking about deadlines and the challenges of shaping a rough idea, Jones mentioned that he will occasionally set aside designs that have the potential to develop at another time. Ive compared the process to working with technology that isn’t yet mature enough to make it into a shipping product:
My equivalent of that is when we have an idea that’s beyond the enabling technology. When we’re absolutely certain that the idea can’t even be prototyped. So often, we have ideas and we’re waiting and working on the technology that will enable the idea. It’s just a strange sort of patience that’s necessary when you feel really good about a direction and an idea, and you just have to wait for the technology to mature.
Since both designers must create future collections and products that won’t ship for months or years, working on a shifted timeline significantly impacts the way they think about the design process. Jones expressed his admiration for how Apple is able to consistently plan ahead to create products that feel part of the same family:
When I look at Apple, you go into the store and everything is so solid and looks harmonious, and it’s kind of like what I want in a Dior store—for people to go in and they see it’s got the same handwriting.
You can read the full conversation between Jony Ive and Kim Jones over on the Document Journal website. Ive has given a range of interviews in recent months, including a history of AirPods design, a sit-down discussion with industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa, and a chat at WIRED25 with Vogue editor Anna Wintour.