Jony Ive

Sir Jony Ive
Chancellor of the Royal College of Art
Assumed office
July 1, 2017 (2017-07-01)
Preceded by James Dyson
as Provost
Personal details
Born Jonathan Paul Ive
(1967-02-27) 27 February 1967
Chingford, London, England
Occupation Industrial designer, academic administrator
Website At Apple Inc.
At the Royal College of Art

Sir Jonathan Paul Ive, KBE, HonFREng, RDI (born 27 February 1967) is an English industrial designer who is currently the Chief Design Officer (CDO) of Apple and Chancellor of the Royal College of Art in London.[1][2] While working for a design firm in London he was asked by Apple, then a struggling company, to create a look for a new laptop. He took the design to Apple and was hired immediately.[3] Ive oversees the Apple Industrial Design Group and also provides and direction for Human Interface software teams across the company. Ive is the designer of many of Apple's hardware and software products.

Ive has received a number of accolades for his work. In 2003 he was the inaugural winner of the Design Museum's Designer of the Year Award. In 2006, he was appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (HonFREng), and in 2012, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) at Buckingham Palace for "services to design and enterprise".[4][5] In a 2004 BBC poll of cultural writers Ive was ranked the most influential person in British culture.[3]

Early life and education

Ive was born in Chingford, London, England. His father, Michael Ive, was a silversmith who lectured at Middlesex Polytechnic, and his grandfather was an engineer.[6] Ive attended the Chingford Foundation School, then Walton High School, in Stafford. During his high school years, Ive was passionate about cars and it was this interest that led to his later career as a designer.

After leaving Walton, Ive explored the option of studying car design in London, such as the course offered at the Royal College of Art; however, he encountered a learning environment that was off-putting: "The classes were full of students making vroom! vroom! noises as they drew".[7] Instead Ive studied industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University), from which he graduated with a first class Bachelor of Arts degree in 1989. Items from his student portfolio, such as a hearing aid design, were exhibited at the Design Museum in London. Following graduation, Ive was unsure of what area to specialise in; after meeting with various design experts, he was drawn to product design. He was given employment at London design agency Roberts Weaver group, his college sponsor.

Ive explained that his discovery of the Apple Mac, after "having a real problem with computers" during his later student years, was a turning point. Fearing he was "technically inept", he felt the Apple user experience was a departure from the computer design at that time[8] and was particularly impressed by the intuitive mouse-driven system.[9]



Dieter Rams' influences on Jon Ive's design style

Jonathan Ive is said to have been influenced by German industrial designer Dieter Rams (who served as a designer for Braun). He is also said to have been influenced by the Bauhaus tradition (known for its credos form follows function and less is more), which emerged in Germany during the 1920s and became a staple design approach adopted by the Ulm School of Design during the 1950s. The Bauhaus / Ulm design style was also adopted during the 1980s by Audi, which also influenced Jonathan Ive’s designs (particularly his work with Apple Inc.).[10][11]


After a year with Roberts Weaver, Jonathan Ive joined a London startup design agency called Tangerine,[12] located in Hoxton Square where he designed a diverse array of products, such as microwave ovens, toilets, drills and toothbrushes.[9] However, his frustration with the position reached a turning point after he designed a toilet, bidet and sink for client Ideal Standard, and the company's boss rejected Ive's work, stating that the products were too costly and looked too modern.[9][13] Ive was unhappy working for clients whom he disliked and who didn't possess the same principles. Apple was a Tangerine client that Ive appreciated and he had been acting in a consultancy role for the computer firm while at Tangerine, creating the initial PowerBook designs. Apple had been attempting to recruit him as a full-time employee for two years without success.[9]


Ive worked as a consultant for Apple's Chief of Industrial Design at the time, Robert Brunner, and eventually became a full-time Apple employee in 1992.[9][14] He designed the second generation of the Newton, the MessagePad 110, taking him by Taipei for the first time. Shortly before Steve Jobs's return to Apple, Ive nearly resigned from the company. Jon Rubinstein, Ive's boss at the time, managed to retain Ive as an employee by explaining that Apple was "going to make history" following the revival of the company.[13]

He became the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design in 1997 after the return of Jobs, and subsequently headed the industrial design team responsible for most of the company's significant hardware products.[15] Ive's first design assignment was the iMac; it helped pave the way for many other designs such as the iPod and eventually the iPhone and the iPad.[16] Jobs made design a chief focus of the firm's product strategy, and Ive proceeded to establish the firm’s leading position with a series of functionally clean, aesthetically pleasing, and commercially successful products. Ive explained the close rapport that existed in his working relationship with Jobs in 2014: "When we were looking at objects, what our eyes physically saw and what we came to perceive were exactly the same. And we would ask the same questions, have the same curiosity about things." Ive described Jobs as "so clever", with "bold" and "magnificent" ideas.[9]

Ive contributes to the overall design of Apple's Stores such as the 24-hour Apple Store in Manhattan, made of all plexiglass and durable cable.

The work and principles of Dieter Rams, the chief designer at Braun from 1961 until 1995, influenced Ive's work. In Gary Hustwit's documentary film Objectified (2009), Rams says that Apple is one of only a handful of companies existing today that design products according to Rams' ten principles of "good design".[17][18]

Ive runs his own design office at Apple, in which he oversees the work of his appointed design team, and he is the only Apple designer with a private office.[19] Only his core team — which consists of around 15 people from the UK, the US, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand (who have worked together for around two decades) — and top Apple executives are allowed into the office, as it contains all of the concepts, including prototypes, that the design team is working on.[9] Ive also refuses to allow his children to enter the office.[13] According to the Jobs biography, Ive's design studio contains foam-cutting and printing machines, while the windows are tinted. Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson: "He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me."[20]

On 29 October 2012, Apple announced that "Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design."[21] With the WWDC13 announcement of iOS 7 and Ive's role as principal, the Apple Press information was also updated to reflect his new title: Senior Vice President of Design. The scheduled publication of an unofficial Ive biography was announced in late 2013. Written by Leander Kahney, who conducted interviews with former Apple designers and executives, the book is titled Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products.[13]

In March 2013, Time magazine published a feature interview with Ive, in which he revealed an optimistic view of his future with Apple:

We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what it will enable us to do in future, we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new ... At Apple, there’s almost a joy in looking at your ignorance and realizing, ‘Wow, we’re going to learn about this and, by the time we’re done, we’re going to really understand and do something great.’ Apple is imperfect, like every large collection of people. But we have a rare quality. There is this almost pre-verbal, instinctive understanding about what we do, why we do it. We share the same values.

In the same interview, Ive stated that he hopes that his best work is yet to emerge and that he prefers to be identified as a maker of products, rather than a designer. Ive believes that there is "a resurgence of the idea of craft" in 2014.[9]

On 26 May 2015, Apple announced that Ive was promoted to the new role of Chief Design Officer. Ive is one of only four C-level executives at Apple along with CEO Tim Cook, CFO Luca Maestri and COO Jeff Williams.[22]

There has long been criticism of Apple's design, particularly related to emphasis on aesthetics, possibly at the expense of functionality. This criticism may have increased under the direction of Ive.[23] On 8 December 2017, Apple announced that Ive will resume direct responsibility for the company’s product design.[24]

Royal College of Art

Ive received an honorary degree from the Royal College of Art in 2009.

On 25 May 2017, it was announced that Ive was appointed Chancellor of the Royal College of Art in London effective 1 July 2017.[1][2][25][26] In this position he serves a fixed five-year term as the Head of College, where he will "preside over meetings and help to govern [the college]."[27] Other duties include: "presiding over meetings of RCA’s advisory committee, attending faculty meetings and conferring degrees at graduation ceremonies."[28]

Ive said of the appointment: "I am thrilled to formalise my relationship with the RCA, given the profound influence the college has had on so many of the artists and designers that I admire."[1]

Personal life

Ive married British writer and historian Heather Pegg in 1987, with whom he raises twin sons. His family resides in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, California, US.[19] Ive avoids publicity and stated in March 2014 that Jobs was his "closest friend", a person he finds it "odd and tough to talk about", as "it doesn’t feel that long ago that he died". He also explained in 2014 that if his work at Apple ever became substandard, he would "make things for [himself], for [his] friends at home instead".[9] Steve Jobs considered Ive to be his "spiritual partner at Apple".[29]

Charity work

Ive has designed products for charitable causes, including a Leica camera for a charity auction that set a world record auction price for a camera[30] and a Jaeger-LeCoultre sports watch—one of only three in the world—for an AIDS-charity auction.[9]

Honours and awards

A fifth generation iPod, one of Ive's most recognised industrial designs.
  • In 1999, Ive was named by the MIT Technology Review TR100 one of the top 100 innovators in the world under age 35.[31]
  • In 2003, he was the winner of the Design Museum's Designer of the Year Award, the first given.[12][14]
  • In 2003, he was appointed a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI).[32]
  • In 2004, he received the RSA Benjamin Franklin Medal.[33]
  • In 2004, he was named the "Most Influential Person on British Culture" in a BBC poll of cultural writers.[34]
  • In 2005, The Sunday Times named Ive one of Britain's most influential expatriates, saying: "Ive may not be the richest or the most senior figure on the list, but he has certainly been one of the most influential as the man who designed the iPod."
  • A 2006, Macworld magazine poll listed Ive's joining Apple in 1992 as the sixth most significant event in Apple's history, while Dan Moren, a writer at MacUser magazine (a subsidiary of Macworld), suggested in March 2006 that, when the time came for Steve Jobs to step down as the CEO of Apple, Ive would be an excellent candidate for the position, justifying the statement by saying that Ive "embodies what Apple is perhaps most famous for: design".[35] However, Jobs was succeeded by Tim Cook, the company's former COO.[36]
  • In 2006, he was also appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (HonFREng).[37]
  • In 2007, the UK edition of GQ named Ive "Product Designer of the Year".[38]
  • In 2007, Ive received the 2007 National Design Award in the product-design category for his work on the iPhone.[39]
  • In 2008, he was named the No. 1 "Most Influential Briton in America" by the Daily Telegraph.[40] Creativity Online included Ive in their "Creativity 50" list.[41] The same year, he was awarded the MDA Personal Achievement Award for the design of the iPhone.[42]
  • In 2009, Ive received an honorary doctorate from the Rhode Island School of Design,[43] and was made an honorary doctor of the Royal College of Art.[44] Also in 2009, Fast Company put him at No. 1 on their list of "100 Most Creative People in Business;[45] the Daily Telegraph named him the second "Most Influential Briton in Technology,[46] Forbes magazine listed him as second amongst the "Most Powerful People in Technology;[47] and The Guardian named him "Inventor of the Decade".[48]
  • In 2010, Bloomberg BusinessWeek listed Ive among the "World's Most Influential Designers",[49] CNN Money named him "Smartest Designer" in their "Smartest People in Tech" story.[50] Ive was listed at No. 18 on "The Vanity Fair 100" list,[51] and Eureka of The Times group placed him No. 5 on their list of "Britain's Most Important Scientists";[52] Fortune named Ive the "world's smartest designer" for his work on Apple products.[53]
  • Fortune stated in 2010 that Apple design motifs Ive's designs have "set the course not just for Apple but for design more broadly".
  • In 2011, the Daily Mail profiled Ive, hailing him as a "design genius".[54] He also was nominated for a British Inspiration Award.[54]
  • In 2012, Ive was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork – the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover – to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires.[55][56]
  • In 2012, Vanity Fair gave Ive along with Tim Cook the first spot on their annual "New Establishment" List.[57]
  • In 2013, the BBC's Blue Peter awarded Ive a gold Blue Peter badge[58] and he was then profiled by Bono in The 2013 TIME annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[59]
  • Ive was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours for "services to the design industry".[60] In the 2012 New Year Honours, he was promoted to Knight Commander of the same Order (KBE) for "services to design and enterprise";[4][12][5] he was knighted by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace in a May 2012 ceremony.[61] He described the honour as "absolutely thrilling" and said he was "both humbled and sincerely grateful".[62][63]
  • As of early 2014, Ive is listed as a patent holder on over 730 U.S. design and utility patents, as well as many more related patents around the world.[64]
  • On successive Wednesdays in June 2016, Ive was awarded honorary Doctor of Science degrees at the University of Cambridge[65] and the University of Oxford.[66] He is an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge.[67]

See also


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