Apple’s Jonathan Ive has been knighted, an honour, he says, that is “incredibly humbling”.
Ive received his knighthood from the Princes Royal in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. His knighthood was announced in the Queen’s New Years Honours list on 31 December 2011.
The Queen made Apple's British-born designer Jonathan Ive a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in recognition of his services to design and enterprise.
Ive spoke with The Daily Telegraph’s Shane Richmond prior to the ceremony. In the interview Ive revealed that the most important Apple design he has ever worked on “would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”
He also described himself as being “definitely the product of a very British design education”.
Ive said: “Even in high school I was keenly aware of this remarkable tradition that the UK had of designing and making. It’s important to remember that Britain was the first country to industrialise, so I think there’s a strong argument to say this is where my profession was founded.”
Ive described his first encounter with a Mac when studying at Newcastle Polytechnic. Having struggled with technology until that time: “I suddenly realised that it wasn’t me at all. The computers that I had been expected to use were absolutely dreadful.”
Speaking about what makes his designs great, Ive noted: “We try to develop products that seem somehow inevitable. That leave 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.”
The care he and Apple take over the design is also important. “I think subconsciously people are remarkably discerning. I think that they can sense care. I think it’s a wonderful view that care was important… We’re keenly aware that when we develop and make something and bring it to market that it really does speak to a set of values. And what preoccupies us is that sense of care, and what our products will not speak to is a schedule, what our products will not speak to is trying to respond to some corporate or competitive agenda. We’re very genuinely designing the best products that we can for people.”
Like Jobs, Ive was inspired by his father who he describes as a significant influence on his decision to pursue design. “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.”
Walter Isaacson revealed details of Jobs' relationship with his father in the biography of Apple’s co-founder.
As was hinted at in the biography, Ive is aware that he isn’t credited as being the sole reason behind the success of the products he designs. “People’s interest is in the product, not in its authorship,” he admitted in the interview.
This is the second royal honour for Ive, who was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in 2006 for his achievements in British design and innovation. The current Knighthood recognises his work on raising design standards generally in consumer, industrial and professional goods and for his championing of British design.
Ive has previously been recognised with numerous design awards including being named Designer of the Year by the Design Museum London and awarded the title Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts. Ive recently won the British Visionary Innovator award.
Ive joined Apple in 1992, and following the return of Steve Jobs in 1997, became Senior Vice President of Industrial Design, designing the first iMac in 1998 and those that followed, and then the iPod, iPhone and iPad.