Jonathan Ive Calls Apple’s Current Project the “Most Important”

Sir Jon Ive

Sir Jonathan Ive

Sir Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, said on Wednesday that the product his company is working on developing now is the “most important” product yet, and the one he’d like to be remembered for. While he didn’t name that product, by definition, it means that he thinks it’s more important than the original iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, or even the iPad.

Sir Jon made the comments in an interview with London’s The Telegraph in response to being asked which of Apple’s products he’d like to be remembered for.

After a long pause, the designer said, “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”

While rumors about Apple are many and varied, currently the two most prominent rumors are that the company is developing a smaller iPad and a television set. If one were willing to make some wild speculation, one might conclude that the television set is the most likely candidate for Sir Jon’s fancy.

For one thing, it’s hard to look at a new product that will serve as an extension for an existing line (i.e. a smaller iPad) as being somehow more important than the original. More importantly, however, the late Steve Jobs talked to biographer Walter Isaacson extensively about an Apple television, waxing poetic about “finally cracking” the code for how to make an Internet-connected TV with an interface that actually works.

Of course, it could be something entirely unrelated to either rumor and be some other cool product that Sir Jon and Apple’s design team is working on.

Design Stuff

The interview is an excellent one, and one that we recommend you read in full (part one, part two) if you are interested in design, and Apple design in particular. Sir Jon, who was officially knighted on Wednesday morning, spoke about such things as “designing the back of the drawer” and other philosophical elements that are a part of the Apple process.

For instance, he said, “I think it’s a wonderful view that care was important – but I think you can make a one-off and not care and you can make a million of something and care. Whether you really care or not is not driven by how many of the products you’re going to make.”

He added, “We’re keenly aware that when we develop and make something and bring it to market that it really does speak to a set of values. And what preoccupies us is that sense of care, and what our products will not speak to is a schedule, what our products will not speak to is trying to respond to some corporate or competitive agenda. We’re very genuinely designing the best products that we can for people.”

He also dismissed concerns that Apple would go downhill without the guiding vision of Steve Jobs, the company’s late cofounder, noting, “We’re developing products in exactly the same way that we were two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. It’s not that there are a few of us working in the same way: there is a large group of us working in the same way.”

That team has been a big part of his experience at Apple, and he said, “We have become rather addicted to learning as a group of people and trying to solve very difficult problems as a team. And we get enormous satisfaction from doing that. Particularly when you’re sat on a plane and it appears that the majority of people are using something that you’ve collectively agonized over. It’s a wonderful reward.”

There’s much more, and it is a very interesting read.

[Via The L.A. Times]