You might think you’d recognize him if you passed him on the street, but you wouldn’t.
He’s not particularly tall, is well built and bald(ish), has two-day-old stubble and dresses like dads do on weekends — navy polo shirt, canvas trousers, desert boots.
But there was one Tangerine client Ive admired: Apple, for which he had started working as a consultant. Ive works in a design studio in a building on one corner of Apple’s campus at 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, the firm’s address.
But last month, he invited me to Cupertino in Silicon Valley where Apple is based, for his first in-depth interview since he became head of design almost 20 years ago. But just after 10AM, an Apple tech-head appeared in an all-white meeting room on the first floor of building 4 of the firm’s antiseptic headquarters with strict instructions to find an Earl Grey tea bag. Thanks for coming,” grins Ive, as he rolls in, picking up his brew.
Ive is the most unremarkable remarkable person you could meet.
We use Jonathan Ive’s products to help us to eat, drink and sleep, to work, travel, relax, read, listen and watch, to shop, chat, date and have sex. It had not rained properly in California for months but that morning the clouds rolled off the Pacific, turning the Golden Gate Bridge black.
Many of us spend more time with his screens than with our families. For years, Ive’s natural shyness, coupled with the secrecy bordering on paranoia of his employer, Apple, has meant we have known little about the man who shapes the future, with such innovations as the i Mac, the i Pod, the i Phone and the i Pad. Interstate 280 South to Silicon Valley was a river of water, instead of the usual lava streaks of stop-start SUVs.
He inherited his craftsman’s skills from his father, Michael.