Jonathan Ive

Jonathan Paul Ive CBE (born February, 1967) is a British designer and the Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Inc. He is internationally renowned as the principal designer of the iMac, aluminum PowerBook G4 (and MacBook Pro), iPod and iPhone.


Ive was raised in Chingford, East London by his Silversmith father and studied Industrial Design at Northumbria University (Newcastle Polytechnic at the time). In his youth, he attended Chingford Foundation School and Walton High School (Stafford). After a short time at the London design agency Tangerine, Ive moved to the United States in 1992 to pursue his career at Apple Inc. He gained his current job title upon the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, and since then has headed the Industrial Design team responsible for most of the company's significant hardware products.

Design motifs

There have been three distinct phases in Apple's product design during Steve Jobs' and Jonathan Ive's collaboration:


This first phase appeared in 1997 with the eMate, followed in 1998 with the release of the original iMac. The design was later applied to the first iBook models released in 1999, and the Blue and White Power Mac G3 and their accompanying Studio Displays. The design was characterised by translucent surfaces with either a candy-like or milky-white coloring and soft, bulging contours. Subdued vertical pinstripes were made to show through the translucent faces of these products. Printed on the back panel for ports and agency approval marks was a lenticular plaque that contains a wavy 3D pattern. The power cords were also translucent, with the twisted wires visible within them.

The translucency and colors in this style appear to be inspired by gumdrop candies, and Ive reportedly visited confectionery plants to learn to replicate the gumdrop's visual effect. Ive and his team went on to develop novel manufacturing techniques in order to build products based on this design.

Only the PowerBook G3 was uninfluenced by the translucent style (with the exception of a translucent, bronze-colored keyboard on the Lombard and Pismo models, and retained its opaque black casing until it was replaced by the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001.

The candy color on the first iMac model is called "Bondi blue", a reference to the color of the water at Sydney's Bondi Beach.

The "Bondi blue" iMac was replaced with five fruit colors in January 1999, "Blueberry" (a bright blue); "Grape" (purple); "Tangerine" (orange); "Lime" (green); and "Strawberry" (pinkish red). Two of these, "Tangerine" and "Blueberry", became the first colors for the iBook. Blueberry was also the color for the Blue and White Power Mac G3 and its displays. These candy colors started a fad in consumer goods where everything from clock radios to hamburger grillers had translucent bright plastic.

In late 1999, the fruit colors were joined by a quieter color scheme called "Graphite", in which the colored elements were replaced with a smoky grey and some of the white elements were made transparent. Graphite was the color of the iMac Special Edition models and the first Power Mac G4. Next came "Ruby" (dark red), "Sage" (forest green), "Indigo" (deep blue) and "Snow" (milky white) in 2000. The iBooks' colors were also updated: Blueberry was replaced with Indigo, Tangerine was replaced with Key Lime (an eye-popping neon green), and Graphite was added at the high end.

In 2001, two new color schemes were introduced: "Flower Power" and "Blue Dalmatian." "Flower Power" was white with flowers, and "Blue Dalmatian" was a blue similar to the original "Bondi blue", but with white spots. The "Snow" color scheme was also used on the second generation iBook.


In 2001, Apple designs shifted away from multicolored translucency and began two new design branches. The professional motif appeared with the Powerbook G4, and features industrial grade metal, first titanium, then aluminum. The consumer design debuted with the iBook G3, and featured glossy white coloring and opaque finishes. Both lines did away with soft, bulging shapes and moved toward streamlined, orthogonal, minimalist shapes. The designs appear to have been heavily influenced by German industrial designer Dieter Rams , with a clear example being the iPhone calculator widget, which appears to have been directly influenced by the Dieter Rams' 1978 Control ET44 calculator.

The iPod continued the look of the consumer line, featuring an opaque, white front. The success and wide embrace of Apple's iPod appeared to have had an effect on Ive and his design team, and some noted the striking similarity of the iPod's design with the subsequent iMac G5 and Mac mini designs. Apple even promoted the release of the iMac G5 as coming "from the creators of iPod," and, in the accompanying promotional photographs, both products were shown next to each other in profile, highlighting the similarities in their design. The more recent Airport Extreme, Apple TV, and iPhone designs have continued this trend toward a simple rounded-rectangle styling across product lines.

Dark aluminum
The more recent designs move away from white plastics, replacing them with glass and aluminum. The new iPhone debuted this new style, showing off darker aluminum on its back and a glass front. The design was then carried over to the iMac line, which now consists mostly of aluminum face, except for a black rim around the screen, and a glass covered screen. The iPod Classic brought this motif to the iPod line, and featured a dark, aluminum face. The Macbook Air blends the aluminum styling of the Macbook Pro line with the new style pattern through its black keyboard and glossy display. Apple is also expected to redesign both the MacBook, and MacBook Pro in the style of the MacBook Air in the near future.


Critics regard Ive's work as being among the best in industrial design, and his team's products have repeatedly won awards such as the Industrial Designers Society of America's Industrial Design Excellence Award. Ive was the winner of the Design Museum's inaugural Designer of the Year award in 2002, and won again in 2003. In 2004, he was a juror for the award.

Ive is known to be unselfish in how he is attributed: In interviews, for example, he always emphasises the teamwork that goes into the products for which he receives recognition and fame.

The Sunday Times named Ive as one of Britain's most influential expatriates on 27 November 2005: "Ive may not be the richest or the most senior figure on the list, but he has certainly been one of the most influential... The man who designed the iPod and many more of Apple's most iconic products has shaken up both the music and the electronics industry." Ive was number three on a list of 25.

Ive was also listed in the 2006 New Years Honours list, receiving a CBE, for services to the design industry. The British monarch, Queen Elizabeth was revealed as being an iPod owner in June 2005.

A recent Macworld poll listed Ive joining Apple in 1992 as the sixth most significant event in Apple history, while MacUser (a subsidiary of Macworld) writer Dan Moren suggested recently that, when the time comes for Steve Jobs to step down as CEO of Apple, Ive would be an excellent candidate for the position, justifying the statement by saying that he "embodies what Apple is perhaps most famous for: design.

On July 18, 2007, Ive received the 2007 National Design Award in the product design category for his work on the iPhone.

The Daily Telegraph rated him the most influential Briton in America on 11 January 2008, 16 places ahead of his fellow Waltham Forest native David Beckham despite the massive publicity received in 2007 by his move to Los Angeles Galaxy.

In July 2008, Ive was awarded the MDA Personal Achievement award for the design of the iPhone.

Personal life

Ive is married to a historian named Heather and is the father of twins. The couple live in the Twin Peaks section of San Francisco, California.

See also


  • Encyclopædia Britannica Online (pay site)

External links

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