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Jonathan Ive: “I want this product to be about what this product is supposed to do for me”


Last night the BBC aired the fifth episode of The Genius of Design which featured Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, Philippe Starck and other design heroes. It’s a must-watch episode. Apple is probably going to announce the new iPhone on Monday during the WWDC, so it was really interesting to listen to Ive discuss product design and hear Stephen Fry’s views about how mobile technology is affecting society.

We’ve transcribed a few choice moments (below) from ‘The Genius of Design: Objects of Desire’ but we highly recommend watching the whole thing.

Jonathan Ive: “When we’re presented with an object that is complex it can be intimidating… and so clarity and simplicity are I think critically important for us to be able to understand a product and enjoy using it.” [Link to clip]

Jonathan Ive: “We’re tying to define products that in a sense seem so inevitable and so natural that in an odd way you don’t almost think of them as being designed, that they just solve a problem but in solving that problem they’re not reminding you of the complexity of this terrible challenge that you face as a designer. And as a user I don’t want to be reminded about this was a tough problem to solve – because that’s your job – I want this product to be about what this product is supposed to do for me. I think those sorts of preoccupations lead to, or can lead to, a product like the iPod.” [Link to clip]

Stephen Fry: “So direct has our connection between this device we have in our pocket and our sense of ourselves become that we almost stop thinking about other people around us and that, love these things as I do, seems to me to be positively dangerous or malignant as an influence on society. A genie has been let out of the bottle and we have to decide whether or not we understand that genie or we understand our behaviour. Can we compare it to when the motorcar changed the world, or the telephone, or print? I don’t know exactly.” [Link to clip]

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