After 27 years, Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, announced that he would be leaving the company later this year. With nearly three decades in the company, Ive has cemented his mark in Apple’s products throughout the years. Focusing on simplicity and minimalism, Ive shaped Apple’s design making it the iconic brand we know today.
Although he took on a managerial role in the past few years, his influence and original designs became the foundation of succeeding Apple products. From saving Apple in 1998 to setting the standards for some of our gadgets today, here’s a list of the iconic designs by Jony Ive.
iMac G3 (1998)
During this time, the iMac G3 sparked consumer interest, which saved Apple from an impending financial problem. What was Ive’s solution? He designed a computer encased in a translucent plastic shell available in 10 colours including Bondi Blue, Lime, and Strawberry, among others.
The iMac G3 was an all-in-one PC and was the first mass-marketed device after Steve Jobs returned as CEO in 1997. Ive’s design of the iMac G3 also paved the way to the company’s emphasis on industrial design.
However, despite its success, the iMac was criticised for not using the widely-used floppy drive during that time. Instead, it opted for USB ports because the design favoured style over functionality.
iBook G3 (1999)
The iMac G3’s design gave way to the iBook’s colourful laptop designs. Aside from the various colours, the iBook G3 features clamshell translucent coloured panels and a slim rubber and plastic case with a 12.1-inch screen and large keyboard.
It sports a PowerPC G3 CPU, USB, modem ports, Ethernet, an optical drive and no legacy Apple interfaces.
The iBook G3 was marketed to students and was Apple’s first consumer-focused laptop.
Power Mac G4 Cube Computer (2000)
Another Jony Ive design that distinguished Apple from the rest of the beige computers was the G4 Cube. The design, which featured a transparent polycarbonate cover, looked futuristic during this time. The computer setup also included a monitor, speakers, keyboard and mouse made of a clear case.
Unfortunately, sales were not as strong, and Apple stopped production of the Cube in July 2001, just a year after its release.
While the iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, the sleek and simple design and ingenious scroll became Apple’s trademark for its consumers. Add a 1,000 song capacity to its storage, and it easily dominated the market in 2001. Ive’s design later produced other variations of the iPod such as the Mini, Nano, and Shuffle.
iMac G4 (2002)
During this time, one of Apple’s biggest challenges was to create a follow-up to the iMac G3. A few years later, Jony Ive departed from the iMac G3’s design and built a computer that was very different from those available in the market.
The iMac G4 featured a thin display connected to a dome-shaped base that contained all of the computer’s hardware including an optical drive. The display was attached through a flexible arm that can be swivelled and tilted. (And yes, the design looked like a desk lamp.)
The all-in-one computer was sold from January 2002 to August 2004.
iMac G5 (2004)
The next update to the iMac G4, the iMac G5 now features an L-shaped, deep bottom bezel and large display. Aside from its design, the iMac G5 made headlines in 2004 for being the fastest personal computer and was also considered as the first 64-bit computer.
For Ive, the screen was the Mac’s centrepiece. In a video interview, Ive explains his new iMac design saying, “There’s not a detail there that doesn’t need to be there. There are no visual interruptions, distractions. There’s just no other noise. Everything is about the display.”
Later on, this design became the foundation for Apple’s subsequent iMacs.
A few years after, Jony Ive has made another mark on the tech industry, one that set how smartphones should look and feel.
Combining the iPod and an internet-capable computer, the iPhone revolutionised mobile phones as well as how we communicate and access information. The iPhone features a 3.5-inch touchscreen, a new operating system called iOS, and mobile apps.
Marcus Fairs, former Editor-in-Chief of Dezeen, described the iPhone as one of the “outstanding designs of the 21st century so far.” It has since become a mainstay in the smartphone market.
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After the iPhone, Jony Ive helped with creating the iPad, which later on paved the way for tablets in the market. The 9.7-inch touchscreen iPad featured a sleek design and was compatible with other Apple devices adding to its functionality.
In a promo video for the iPad, Ive said, "When something exceeds your ability to understand how it works it sort of becomes magical—and that's exactly what the iPad is."
Apple Watch (2015)
Featuring a stainless steel body, rectangular display, digital crown, and swappable bands, Apple released the Apple Watch, their first fitness tracker. It was also the company’s first wearable device. Though it was not the first of its kind in the market, it was the most anticipated device during this time.
Ive designed the device to become more available and accessible to users, and to be able to connect with other Apple devices as well. Apple also released three versions including Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. In a video interview, Ive said that the Apple Watch is so personal that it’s meant to be worn on the wrist.
Apple Park (2017)
While this may not be a device, Jony Ive’s final design contribution to Apple would be the company’s corporate headquarters, the Apple Park. Alongside architect Norman Foster, it took 13 years, 2.8 million square feet, 10,000 employees, and five billion dollars to design, plan, and build the four-storey circular building surrounded by green spaces in Cupertino, California.
Although the Apple Park was a tribute to Steve Jobs, the building will definitely be one of Ive’s lasting legacies testifying his genius and most likely outlasting all the products he has ever designed.
What’s next for Jony Ive?
Jony Ive leaving Apple doesn’t mean it’s the end for both parties. In fact, his first client for his new design company LoveFrom is Apple. Ive and his team will most likely be consultants for Apple’s physical stores and architectural work. Aside from this, he will also be focusing on wearable tech, healthcare designs, and a wide range of products and projects.
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