Jon Ive: Make It Better or Don’t Make It

The secret to good design is simple: make it better or don’t make it at all. These words of wisdom come Apple Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, Sir Jonathan Ive. The company’s increasingly famous design guru offered his thoughts on the subject of good design and designing for Apple in an interview with The London Evening Standard.

Jonathan Ive

Sir Jon

While Sir Jon resides in California, he was born in London (Chingford, for those keeping score at home). He remains proud of his British roots and returns to London 3-4 times a year. He said that he finds London remarkable in the number of creative industries that exist there, but also characterized the atmosphere of Silicon Valley as unique. He called it a place of optimism with a simple, practical, straight-forward approach to business.

There’s not a sense of looking to generate money, its about having an idea and doing it - I think that characterizes this area and its focus,” he said in the interview.

When it comes to Apple’s approach to design, he said, Our goals are very simple - to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.”

He also argued that, “Our goal is simple objects, objects that you can’t imagine any other way. Simplicity is not the absence of clutter. Get it right, and you become closer and more focused on the object.”

Apple has never been a proponent of focus groups or asking consumers what they want. This is something that Steve Jobs spoke about frequently, and Sir Jonathan reiterated that idea, saying, “It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”

When asked about people’s uncanny attachment to their i-devices, Sir Jon credited the Apple team, noting, “I think that people’s emotional connection to our products is that they sense our care, and the amount of work that has gone into creating it.”

Sir Jon was named Designer of the Year by the Design Museum in 2003, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2009 by the Royal College of Art. In 2007, he received the National Design Award by then First Lady Laura Bush. He has also received two notable recognitions from the British Empire, being first appointed to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) at the 2006 New Year Honours and recently being elevated to Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours.

Additional reporting by Bryan Chaffin.