Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design Johnathan Ive recently spoke with Time in a very rare in-depth interview. Last year, the name Jony Ive became synonymous with iOS 7 as the design chief headed the department that stripped iOS of its skeuomorphic theme and replaced it with the flatter, brighter design we see today. The Time interview features insight into Ive’s history with Apple, his passion for innovation, and just how important his role was in turning a dying company into a $665 billion powerhouse.
Ive’s influence dates back to as early as 1991, when he was acting as a consultant for Apple and not yet on the employee roster. He came up with an early design idea for a portable computer that ultimately became the Powerbook.
Ive officiall joined Apple in 1992. Within a few years, he was on the verge of quitting because the company sorely lacked innovation at the time. However, Ive held out and was quickly the center of CEO Steve Jobs’ attention in 1996 when the founder returned to Apple. “The two men set out on their maniacal journey to remake what they saw as the bland, lazy world around them.”
When you think of Ive’s shy and sometimes self-deprecating personality, you don’t think of it being similar to Jobs’ critical and sometimes controlling personality. The two are very different on the surface. Ive knew what made the two like peas in a pod. “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 also doesn’t think of Jobs the way the media perceived him after his passing (ie: critical and controlling). “So much has been written about Steve, and I don’t recognize my friend in much of it. Yes, he had a surgically precise opinion. Yes, it could sting. Yes, he constantly questioned. ‘Is this good enough? Is this right?’ but he was so clever. His ideas were bold and magnificent. They could suck the air from the room. And when the ideas didn’t come, he decided to believe we would eventually make something great. And, oh, the joy of getting there!”
Ive thinks of Jobs as his closest friend and noted that it doesn’t seem like that long ago that his friend passed away, therefore talking about him is still difficult.
When it comes to Apple’s future, Ive is confident that the company’s innovative culture will thrive. When asked if he would consider quitting the company if Apple stopped making products that pushed the envelope, Ive replied, “Yes. I’d stop. I’d make things for myself, for my friends at home instead. The bar needs to be high.” But, he added, “I don’t think that will happen. 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. Its still so, so new.”
Time’s interview with Ive goes into more specifics about his time with Apple, his love of cars, and his opinion about other companies who have used his ideas to create their own versions of devices (hint: he calls it stealing). Read the full interview to get more insight into the man who changed iOS forever.