How Jony Ive Became One Of The Most Influential Designers In The World

Jony Ive Apple Portrait IllustrationMike Nudelman/Business InsiderAn illustration of Jony Ive

Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, turned down a job at the company before being hired in 1992. Now, more than two decades later, he’s among the most powerful people at the company.

Ive is responsible for designing Apple’s most iconic products, from the original iMac to the iPod to the first iPhone.

His design philosophy has not only shaped Apple’s gadgets, but entire product categories throughout the industry too.

As Apple gears up to release its new mobile products this fall, here’s a look at how Ive came to be one of today’s most influential designers.

Ive exhibited a deep curiosity about how things worked when he was a child. He would dismantle radios to learn about how they were put together and how the pieces fit.

Ive drew much inspiration from his father -- a skilled silversmith. His favourite Christmas gift from his father was unlimited access to his workshop for one day.

Ive received his Bachelor of Arts from Northumbria University, which was then called Newcastle Polytechnic, where he studied industrial design.

But Ive nearly gave up on his dream while in college. His father recruited designer Tom Karen to inspire his son after he said he had considered dropping an industrial design course.

Source: The Telegraph

Before joining Apple in 1992, Ive worked at London-based design startup Tangerine. While at Tangerine, Ive designed everything from toothbrushes to microwave ovens.

Apple's iPhone leaders, Jony Ive and Craig Federighi.

Source: Time

Ive soon grew tired of his work at Tangerine, but the last straw came when he was assigned to design a toilet for client Ideal Standard. When Ive presented his final design, the boss criticised it for being too expensive to build.

Source: Time

Ive had grown fond of another Tangerine client, however: Apple. He consulted for the company while at Tangerine, and became fascinated with the simplicity behind Apple's machines.

Source: Time

Apple had been asking Ive to work for them full time for two years, and in 1992 he finally agreed to take the job.

Source: Time

Shortly after Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, Jony Ive was promoted to Senior Vice President of Industrial Design in 1997. This when he began leading Apple's design team -- with one of his first major design assignments being the original iMac.

Ive designed a handful of products between 1998 and 2001, including new iBook models in 1999 and 2001, the Pro Mouse in 2000, and the Titanium Powerbook G4 in 2001.

The iBook


But in 2001, Ive designed what may be considered among the most crucial products of his career -- the original iPod. This was an entirely new product category for Apple. Combined with iTunes, the iPod became the most popular music player of its time.

A third generation iPod

The iPod not only helped transform the music industry; it was also a crucial moment for the consumer electronics space. Jordan Selburn, a senior principal analysts in consumer electronics for IHS iSuppli, told Mashable that the iPod 'truly ushered in the era of portable electronics.'

Source: Mashable

In 2007, Ive helped launch Apple into another widely successful category: smartphones. The original iPhone, designed by Ive, was one of the first smartphones that was designed for consumers rather than for business users.

Ive is also the creative mind behind Apple's line of iPads, which initially debuted in 2010. The iPad wasn't necessarily the first device of its kind, but it did bring tablets to the mainstream.

Ive began developing the iPad by ordering twenty prototypes in various screen sizes and resolutions. These were then laid out on a table in Ive's studio for him and Jobs to play with.

In 2012, Ive was given even more responsibility at Apple. Ive was promoted to lead the Human Interface department across the company, meaning he'd take the lead role in designing Apple's software in addition to its hardware. The move came after Scott Forstall was ousted.

As part of his new role, Ive completely redesigned the look and feel of Apple's iPhone and iPad software with iOS 7. Ive stripped the OS of its signature skeuomorphic design and replaced it with a flatter look.

iOS 6 (left) vs. iOS 7 (right)

If recent rumours turn out to be true, there may be more pressure than ever on Ive. It's been widely reported that Apple will break into another new product this year -- wearables. Ive could be hard at work creating the company's first smartwatch and two redesigned iPhones.

An iWatch design concept (not affiliated with Apple)

Now check out some of the most memorable quotes on design from Ive...

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