I love industrial design and have it as long as I can remember. As a kid, I broke my dad's brown razor when I played with the dial, which raised and lowered the blades because the action was so cool and "clicky". At school, I dreamed of being either a product designer or an architect.
These dreams were dashed when I failed technical drawing (I had a deviation of more than 4 cm and the tolerance of the test was less than 0.5 cm) and did not pass my exams in physics and math In the past 30 years, my inner industrial designer has lived through the career of my contemporary (he is only a few years younger than me) and his Briton Sir Jony Ive.
I made it into a "cool" industrial product designer. Stop everyone on the street and ask him to name a famous industrial designer, and I would dare to suppose that the answer is Jony Ive.
Yes, there are many other influential industrial designers. Yves Béhar and Dieter Rams ̵
Not only has Ive designed some of Apple's most popular products over the last 30 years – the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, to name a few. The success of these products has directly impacted the lives of millions of people and the way they see the product is changing meaning of great industrial design as a result.
If you were just to ask if Jony Ive designed a [insert product here]most people could imagine exactly what that product would look like: minimal design, clear shape, functional utility and abundant use of aluminum. That's remarkable.
In addition, this appreciation for great product design has made it a key success factor for any technology product on the market today. I would argue that Microsoft's remarkable resurgence with the Surface under Satya Nadella is due, at least in part, to its willingness to acknowledge the importance of design over the mere utility as the brand's defining brand value. This does not just mean copying Apple: Surface Studio and Surface Pro are self-contained and beautifully designed, and it's also about Microsoft. The same goes for the Pixelbook, which is clearly Google, or even for the Galaxy S10 Plus, which is clearly Samsung (the Bixby button is a real present).
And the rising value of great product design is not just limited to consumer tech companies. When I photographed the interior of Virgin America's brand-new airplanes in 2006, I remember how many times we compared the design language of seats and lighting to Apple and Ive. I doubt JetBlue would have followed so well without Virgin America's mood light or 50 entertainment channels, let alone American Airlines. The same applies to cars. Look at the interior design of many cars in 2019 and I think you can clearly see evidence of Ive's influence.
Of course I'm not saying that Jony Ive is directly responsible for a better flight experience or a more ingenious and creative experience functional dashboard. But I say, it is the result of Ive's undeniable influence that many companies now view good design as a much more important component of their success than they did 30 years ago.
Nor do I say that everything I ever created was wonderful. During his time at Apple, he also made some real lemons (the Newton, the Cube, the "dustbin" MacPro and iOS 7 are immediately obvious to him). But this fallibility lets me respect his biggest hits even more. At least he was trying something different and new.
But while the broader and more effective adoption of good industrial design practices undoubtedly benefited both consumers and design fans, Apple was (albeit not financially) the company that suffered the most. This could explain Ive's departure.
As Buddy Pine says in the film The Incredibles "If everyone is great, no one is great." Thirty years ago, Jony Ive's design was aesthetic and a partnership with Steve Jobs Apple Products stood head and shoulders about almost everything else available. They were really revolutionary. The iMac was a brightly translucent PC in blue, orange or magenta, as the offer of any other computer manufacturer was a beige box. The iPod was clunky and had a practical, childlike ease-of-use that "has a thousand songs in it". And as for the first iPhone. Let me just say that in terms of design, I think it's still the best iPhone by far.
In 2019, however, it is extremely difficult to maintain this level of influence on game development. It's very hard to lead from scratch. Apple has found it difficult to encourage its user base to upgrade to the relatively iterative new design of the iPhone X and XS. I am not surprised that it is cautious to introduce something revolutionary. Apple is caught in its own trap: critics say Apple is the brave, courageous brand we expect, but users can only do that as long as everything works the same way. We're in a post-hardware world where seamless functionality across multiple devices is critical and great design is taken for granted.
For me personally, Apple products are not milestones in my life anymore. In recent years, products from Google, Nintendo and Sony have taken these places. I have no doubt that all of Ive's designers have been influenced in any way, but that does not change the fact that the only Apple products I own today are an old Apple TV and the laptop of which I was provided The Verge .
I came from Apple looking for new brands to be inspired by design. Maybe Jony decided to do the same.
Photograph by James Bareham / The Verge