Jonathan Ive Designs Tomorrow

29 Mar

Jonathan Ive Designs Tomorrow

” There’s no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.”

  ― Martin Scorsese

The great filmmaker is very right. Simple is harder than complex. Think Gandhi. Think Mandela. Think Chaplin.  Think their profundity and accomplishments. As the brilliant Steve Jobs said “ Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” I have a life long fascination with simple. I want to share  this very nice Time magazine profile and interview of Apple’s Head of Design Jonathan Ive. I was most happy to read this piece. Steve Jobs and Apple was synonymous with design. British born Jonathan Ive the perfect comrade in arms.  A little bit of me , before that, if you will..

I started out in entrepreneurship. I was always curious and liked creation. Entrepreneurship and any kind of creation is also a ” pleasure of finding things out.” As the great Richard Feynman documentary is named. I believe no knows anything for certain. Unless its  religious diktats or piracy. Then you blindly follow or ape. Everything else then is discovered and learnt. The greats go a step further and invent. Steve jobs is  an inventor. Jonathan Ive is very very able partner.

I have been most excited to work in entrepreneurship. Subsequently with Indian and cross border entrepreneurs. That was closest to thrill of entrepreneurship. You always hope to make a little difference. You always feel happy when you accomplish a mandate. I did not make money. Nor do have anything to brag about like those one time exit- entrepreneurs or investors. My experience is restricted to working with entrepreneurs who have a three to five year window for an exit. My assignments gave me inner happiness. Sometimes wonder does any one remember me or my work? some good people do, some willfully do not remember you. That’s okay. So my work gave me happiness. It took care of my brothers medical expenses and rehabilitation and my sister’s education. It didn’t do much for me. I would always imagine , how would it be to work for a game changing entrepreneur like Apple’s “Steve Jobs” or  Amazon’s  “Jeff Bezos” or Google’s founder’s ” Larry Page and Sergey Brin”.  I remember looking at awe for a few minutes ” Jeff Bezos” scribbled signature on walls of Amazon India office in Bangalore. These are brilliant Renaissance entrepreneurs who are in for the long haul.  My little saving grace did get to work with Amazon on a start up assignment.  I can go to grave peacefully 🙂

It’s precisely for the long and game changing work that loved the Time magazine article on Apple’s Jonathan Ive. Also for the game changing work and consequences of simplicity. I had posted a interview with  great Italian architect Renzo Piano where he had alluded that architects cannot afford to make mistakes . It is then visible to all. It cannot be undone. Hence the design is so crucial. The  head of Design of Apple says in the interview  “Objects and their manufacture are inseparable. You understand a product if you understand how it’s made. I want to know what things are for, how they work, what they can or should be made of, before I even begin to think what they should look like. More and more people do. There is a resurgence of the idea of craft.”

Please also see this ” Steve and I spent months and months working on a part of a product that, often, nobody would ever see, nor realize was there, It didn’t make any difference functionally. We did it because we cared, because when you realize how well you can make something, falling short, whether seen or not, feels like failure.” This then is perfect marriage of business, zen and invention. I find it beautiful.

The first time saw Apple imac was stunned. The design and fluorescent green colors. I wondered would it be functional or like beauty queens to be admired from far. The writer says ” He ( Jonathan Ive) worked with confectionery manufacturers to perfect the translucent jelly-bean shades of his first big hit, the original iMac. He travelled to Niigata in northern Japan to see how metalworkers there beat metal thin, to help him create the titanium Powerbook, the first lightweight aluminum laptop in a world of hefty black plastic slabs.He spent “months and months and months” working out the exact shape of the stand of the desktop iMac computer because “it’s very hard to design something that you almost do not see because it just seems so obvious, natural and inevitable”. The little stand is hardly visible, but then artists and creators are driven by perfection and sense of inner happiness. Isn’t it brilliant? So much better than excel sheets and people who talk from all pores of their body. I only like women who talk.

Please see this  ” We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made. We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things. our success is a victory for purity, integrity — for giving a damn.”

Finally want to share something from my little note books. Its from a Asia society India address by Drew Gilpin Faust ( 19 Jan 2012) in Mumbai. The Harvard university president stated and I quote below :

” We can unleash innovation and creativity in deliberate ways. Steve Jobs made it his stated purpose in life to combine the sciences and humanities to change the world.  Near the end of his life, he said the reason his company, Apple, resonates with people is not just innovation, but as he put it, because ” there is a deep current of humanity in our innovation.” It is no surprise that his inspiration for perfecting Apple’s greatest engineering products was drawn from the arts – a prized bootleg of tape of the Beatles perfecting and refining, over and over, the song ” Strawberry fields forever.” At his famous product launches, Jobs would unveil a highly anticipated device using words like ” revolutionary” and ” intuitive” and then show the image of two intersecting street signs, one saying ” Technology ” and one saying ” Liberal arts “.  “The intersection of humanities and science.” He once remarked ” there is something magical about that place.”

( Drew Gilpin Faust )

Truly that space is magical. Revolutionary and Intuitive. Imagine then iMac,iPod,iPhone and iPad , and the beautiful revolutionary people behind  the great Steve Jobs and  wonderful Jonathan Ive.

As for me ” Ah remember me, I used to live for music . Remember me, I brought your groceries in ….”  and ” And I thank you for those items that you sent me, The monkey and the plywood violin. I practiced every night, now I’m ready ..” ( First we take Manhattan/ Leonard Cohen) . I hope industry remembers me 🙂

I loved this Time magazine profile of Jonathan Ive. I am going to read it again and again for ” purity, integrity — for giving a damn”. I hope you love it too.

Good night friends! Hope you have a lovely day! Thank you!





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