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Designer mythology

March 21, 2011


Any one who knows about Apple in any level of detail knows the important role Johnathan Ive plays at the company.

While his status is very much underplayed by Apple’s PR team; he rarely makes public appearances and sometimes can be found on Apple product videos and in the odd documentary.

However, since he’s a Brit, the UK tabloids aren’t so keen on keeping his profile so low and given the huge growth spurt Apple has been through, it’s been hard to keep this story under wraps and it was inevitable that someone would do a detailed profile of Ive and it just happened to be The Daily Mail.

Who knows how and if they did their research, but you couldn’t want for a better piece of storytelling. It mythologizes the designer in the truest sense of the archetype and presents Ive as nothing short of genius.

“Ive’s lab is Apple’s inner sanctum.
Here, touch screens control the glass-sided machines in which new
products take form. Desks are bare bar the aluminium sheets that slot
together to form the familiar lines of iconic products such as the
MacBook Air. Collectively, the designers obsess
over each product, stripping away non-essential parts, reworking tiny
details such as LED indicators on the sides of laptops and phones. Ive
once spent months working solely on the stand for Apple’s desktop iMac;
he was searching for the sort of organic perfection found in sunflower
stalks. That final
design used a combination of forged and polished steels and expensive
laser welding to create an elegant, beautiful stem that was barely even
noticed in the finished product. Ive loathes shape-making for its own
sake. His most fevered creations never even
make it out of the lab. He works by a process of evolution, and
failures simply die on the workbench”

Let’s break this down.

1. He has his own lab
2. It’s inhabited by designers and strange glass-sided machines controlled by touch screens
3. It’s a place of obsession over tiny details
4. Ive is the most obsessive of all- finding inspiration in sunflower stalks
5. Like a true genius- his best stuff never makes it out of the lab

Posted by Ed Cotton

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