Learning from Jony Ive’s Design Genius

Sir Jonathan Ive, a prominent figure in the world of industrial design, has captivated the masses with his innovative creations and his eloquent narration in Apple’s sleek product commercials. As the mastermind behind iconic designs like the iPhone and iMac, Ive has left an indelible mark on the tech industry.

In a recent unexpected development, Ive decided to part ways with Apple, causing a significant drop in the company’s market value. Although whispers of his departure have circulated for years, the timing came as a shock, given the recent launch of the new iPad Pro and Mac Pro.

Ive’s design philosophies and practices have undeniably shaped some of the most iconic tech products of our time. This article delves into the principles that have guided his successful career.

People who are great at designing and making have a great advantage.

1. Emphasis on Physical Prototyping

In a world where digital design tools are increasingly accessible and affordable, Ive emphasizes the importance of hands-on prototyping. Although computer-aided design (CAD) software can make even subpar designs look appealing, the tactile experience of holding a product is irreplaceable. As Ive puts it, “People who are great at designing and making have a great advantage.” Thus, cultivating the skill of physical prototyping is essential for designers to better understand real-world applications.

2. Embracing Failure in Pursuit of the Best Idea

Ive maintains that failure is an integral part of the creative process. He asserts, “If we are not failing, we are not pushing.” By consistently rejecting ideas throughout the design process, he ensures that only the best concepts are pursued. Ive’s fearless approach to failure ultimately leads to innovative breakthroughs.

3. Differentiating with Intent

Although Apple’s famous slogan, “Think Different,” advocates for innovation, Ive believes that every deviation should serve a purpose. Instead of aiming for mere uniqueness, designers should focus on creating products that are genuinely better. He cautions against superficial changes, saying, “Different is easy. Make it pink and fluffy!” Instead, Ive champions the pursuit of meaningful improvements that stand the test of time.

4. A Profound Understanding of Materials and Manufacturing

Ive’s deep-rooted knowledge of materials and processes allows him to develop and define forms that are both appropriate and functional. He argues that without fully understanding a material and its journey from raw state to finished product, designers cannot create truly exceptional work. This unwavering commitment to the intricacies of design is a key factor in Ive’s continued success.


In summary, Jony Ive’s design genius stems from his dedication to physical prototyping, his willingness to embrace failure, his focus on intentional differentiation, and his thorough understanding of materials and manufacturing processes. By incorporating these principles, aspiring designers can follow in Ive’s footsteps and create the iconic products of the future.