Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products


Kahney does a deep dive on perhaps the world's most famous industrial designer, Jony Ive, and what makes him tick

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Key Takeaways

  1. Jony is all about the work, the team. Starting with the basics, going back to first principles, remove anything non essential
  2. His talent came through from an early age. His father encouraged him and was a great builder himself. His Xmas present to Jony was free reign of his workshop and they’d build anything together, butt Jony had to hand draw the design
  3. Jony’s talent was not only in the design, but in the ability to communicate the design to non-designers. He learned and worked with a wide variety of people and disciplines from an early age. It is really rare to have the combination of design aesthetic and the ability to actually build it
  4. He was ego-free, humble and that combo with an immense talent is quite rare. No strong ideological ties was one of his mantras
  5. One of his early designs was a pen. While it was beautiful, what set it apart was that he added a clicking mechanism that didn’t actually do anything. He noticed people fiddled with their pens and wanted to fill that need
  6. Jony loved the work, the process. He was relentless, meticulous - making hundreds of iterations to get the design right. Not only that, he had to physically make it to truly understand if each subtle change was right or not. From early on, he came to love both the hardware and the software. He was able to zoom in and zoom out
  7. What something should be was always his starting point. He wanted to humanize technology and was able to ignore what came before him. He always adapted himself to the product, rather than the other way around. He avoided having a style or personal stamp, preferring to be a chameleon. His avoidance of style made his designs timeless and authentic
  8. Jony bought biology books to learn from nature. He loved the flow of water and natural movement
  9. Often began by asking “what is the story of this product?”
  10. Jony was a quiet leader and let his work speak for him. He hated awards and lead from the back
  11. Before Apple, Jony helped institute parallel design programs that had no timelines. This was their creative outlet where they could experiment and fail without repercussions
  12. It’s very easy to be different. It’s very difficult to be better
  13. Jobs and Ivy helped move Apple from an engineering-led to design-led company. They only worried about whether it was as good as it could be and if customers would love it. They didn't worry about how much it would cost to make or if they would make money

What I got out of it

  1. Love Jony's focus on simplicity, minimalism, elegance, and better understanding his role as a quiet leader, someone who let his work and his passion speak for him

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