Jony Ive is a legend in the design world who is best known for bringing a distinct mix of understatement and elegance to numerous Apple products.
One reason he has achieved so much is because of a quality he learned from Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs: focus.
“I had the most wonderful teacher in Steve. I’ve never met anyone with his focus,” said Ive, speaking at the New Yorker‘s TechFest on Friday afternoon in Manhattan. Ive described his daily lunch meetings with Jobs, and how the mercurial Apple leader would repeatedly ask him what projects he had refused.
“There are measures of focus and one of them is how often you say no…Focus means putting aside things you’re passionate about,” said Ive.
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The designer, clad in a light blue t-shirt, white pants and a white Apple Watch, also described how Jobs’s relentless focus on product quality helped rescue Apple from “near irrelevance.”
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, Ive recalled, he didn’t bring a bottom line fixation that had pre-occupied a series of short term CEOs before him.
“Steve was very clear that the goal of Apple was not to make money,” he said, even though the company was in dire financial straits.
In his chat with New Yorker editor David Remnick, Ive also shared some more general ideas about his design philosophy.
“Every single object that is made testifies to the values and preoccupations of the people who got together to make it,” he said, adding that he found many designs in the world around him to be “terrible” or “flippant.”
Ive, who was the subject of a seminal 2015 New Yorker profile, did not discuss his future at Apple or his current projects. In the last year, there have been rumors that the famous designer has been stepping into a lower profile role.