Ive flew to Britain from the US with his wife and eight-year-old twin sons to receive his knighthood at Buckingham Palace, five months after it was announced in December 2011.
The Queen made Apple’s British-born Senior Vice-President, Industrial Design, a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of Ive’s services to design and enterprise.
Ive even managed a chat with Anne – the Princess Royal – where they discussed her iPad and how often he went back to the UK.
London’s The Telegraph newspaper yesterday published an interview with Ive where he revealed that the most important Apple design he has ever worked on is “what we’re working on right now”.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is design and make; it’s what I love doing.” Ive told The Telegraph. “It’s great if you can find what you love to do. Finding it is one thing but then to be able to practise that and be preoccupied with that is another. I’m very aware of an incredible tradition in the UK of designing and making, and so to be recognised in this way is really wonderful.”
Ive described his first encounter with an Apple Mac when studying. Having seen himself as not very tech-savvy, he was amazed to find a computer that he could use “I suddenly realised that it wasn’t me at all. The computers that I had been expected to use were absolutely dreadful.”
The Telegraph also reported that Ive constantly emphasised the teamwork involved and almost always spoke about “we” rather than “I”.
“We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable,” he said.” That leaves you with the sense that that’s the only possible solution that makes sense. Our products are tools and we don’t want design to get in the way. We’re trying to bring simplicity and clarity, we’re trying to order the products. I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care.
“We’re developing products in exactly the same way that we were two years ago, five years ago, 10 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”.
“Design is a word that’s come to mean so much that it’s also a word that has come to mean nothing. We don’t really talk about design, we talk about developing ideas and making products,” Ive said.
“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple. The quest for simplicity has to pervade every part of the process. It really is fundamental.”
The Telegraph also said that the word “simplicity” came up frequently in conversation with Ive.
The designer said he was inspired by his father: “My father was a very good craftsman. He made furniture, he made silverware and he had an incredible gift in terms of how you can make something yourself.”
The office where Ive works at Apple is off limits. Behind its tinted windows it is filled with machines for designing and prototyping Apple’s products. Only a privileged few “select employees” are allowed in.
When asked which of his Apple designs he’d pick if he was to be remembered for just one, after a long pause Ive 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.”
Asked whether, if the Queen asked about the new iPhone, Ive would say, “I’m sorry Your Majesty, we don’t comment on forthcoming products”, Ive responded, “That would be funny,” and laughed.