Jony Ive and his products feature heavily in our day-to-day lives, but how much do you know about the man himself? Leander Kahney, author of a new biography of Apple’s design chief, offers five little-known facts
1. Jony Ive is Dyslexic
Even so, he got three straight As at A-level, good enough to get him into Oxford or Cambridge. Instead he went to Newcastle Polytechnic, one of the best places to study industrial design in the world.
Later, Ive teamed up with another famous dyslexic: Steve Jobs.
Dyslexia is common among many creative innovators, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Steven Spielberg. In fact, it correlates so frequently with high creativity, it’s been called “the gift of dyslexia” and the “affliction of geniuses.”
2. Ive has a lifelong passion for cars
He drove his first car, an orange Fiat 500, to school in the early 1980s. At the time, Ive had spiky gothic hair; the sunroof had to be opened to accommodate it.
Since then, Ive has restored an Austin-Healy “Frogeye” Sprite with his father, and purchased Aston Martins, Bentleys and Land Rovers.
3. He had a near fatal car accident just as Apple was taking off
Ive wrecked his Aston Martin DB9, a $US250,000 James Bond super car, just outside San Francisco. He was lucky to survive, according to colleagues.
It made Apple sit up and worry what would happen if they lost him. He got a big pay jump and a lump of stock options. Aston Martin replaced the car, but the replacement burst into flames in his driveway and might have started a house fire. So he got a Bentley.
4. He’s obsessed with making you touch things
It’s fitting that the man behind the iPhone and iPad — the ultimate tactile electronic gizmos — started his design career by adding a “fiddle factor” to his products.
All Ive’s early products were marked by little thoughtful touches that made owners want to fiddle with them. An early tablet for Apple, for example (the Newton MessagePad), had a telescoping pop-out pen that users loved to fiddle with. He even added handles to his computers to encourage users to touch them.
5. He heads a design team that hasn’t much changed since the mid 1990s
Apple’s design team was pretty much in place before Steve Jobs returned to the company, and is still there today. It consists of about 20 designers who work in an ultra-secure studio on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California.
Most of the designers live in San Francisco and enjoy great perks and benefits. As well as being better paid than many of their design contemporaries, a lot of them are sitting on shares that were granted when Apple stock was in the tank.
In addition, the designers call the shots at Apple: they’re the brains behind Apple’s little innovation factory.
Jony Ive, the Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney (Portfolio Penguin, £14.99) is published on November 28th