Jonathan Ive
BornFebruary, 1967
OccupationSenior Vice President of Industrial Design for Apple Computer

Jonathan P. Ive CBE (born February 1967 in London) is Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple Computer. Ive led the team that designed the iMac, a key product in turning Apple's fortunes at a difficult time for the company, the iPod, which has established Apple as the dominant presence in the digital audio player market, and the iPhone.

Career at Apple Computer

Since Steve Jobs returned to Apple Computer in 1997, Ive has headed the industrial design team that produces most of the company's current hardware products. Ive's team designed the original iMac and its successors, the original iBook and its successors, the Power Mac starting with the Power Macintosh G3 (Blue & White), the Power Mac G4 Cube, the PowerBook starting with the Titanium PowerBook G4 (or possibly earlier), the eMac, the Mac mini, the Xserve and Xserve RAID as well as the iPod family, the AirPort base station family, and the Apple Cinema Display and some later Studio Displays. The team has also assisted in the design of some third-party Mac accessories such as the Harman Kardon Soundsticks speaker system.

Ive's team designed the original iMac, a design that had a heavy impact on popular culture for years to come.


There have been distinct phases in Ive's designs for Apple. The first style appeared in 1998 with the release of the original iMac and was also evident in the clamshell iBook models, as well as the Blue and White Power Mac G3 and its accompanying line of Studio Displays. This design is characterized by translucent candy-coloured and milky white surfaces with soft, bulging shapes. Subdued vertical pinstripes show through the translucent faces of these Macs and displays. Printed on the back panel for ports and agency approval marks is a lenticular plaque that contains a wavy 3D pattern. Even the power cords are translucent, showing the twist of wires within.

The translucency and colours in this style were inspired by gumdrop candies. In fact, Ive visited confectionery companies for advice on replicating a gumdrop's visual effect, and his team developed novel techniques in order to build it. The candy colour on the first iMac model is called "Bondi blue", evoking the colour of the sea at beaches such as Sydney's Bondi Beach.

The "Bondi blue" iMac was replaced with five fruit colours in January 1999, "Blueberry" (a bright blue); "Grape" (purple); "Tangerine" (orange); "Lime" (green); and "Strawberry" (pinkish red). Two of these, "Tangerine" and "Blueberry", became the first colours for the iBook. Blueberry was also the color for the Blue and White Power Mac G3 and its displays. These candy colors started a fad in consumer goods where everything from clock radios to hamburger grillers had translucent bright plastic.

The iMac G4 was indicative of change in phases for Ive's design team. Many of Ive's designs have centered around simplistic materials and shapes, at times understating the amount of technology used in their development.

In late 1999, the fruit colours were joined by a quieter colour scheme called "Graphite", in which the coloured elements were replaced with a smokey grey and some of the white elements were made transparent. Graphite was the colour of the iMac Special Edition models and the first Power Mac G4. Next came "Ruby" (dark red), "Sage" (forest green), "Indigo" (deep blue) and "Snow" (milky white) in 2000. The iBooks' colors were also updated: Blueberry was replaced with Indigo, Tangerine was replaced with Key Lime (an eye-popping neon green), and Graphite was added at the high end.

In 2001, two new color schemes were introduced: "Flower Power" and "Blue Dalmatian". "Flower Power" was white with flowers, and "Blue Dalmatian" was a blue similar to the original "Bondi blue", but with white spots. The "Snow" color scheme was also used on the second generation iBook.

Only the PowerBook G3 was uninfluenced by the translucent style (with the exception of a translucent bronze-colored keyboard on the Lombard and Pismo models), retaining its opaque black casing until it was replaced by the Titanium PowerBook G4 in 2001.

Ive's more recent product designs for Apple have shifted away from multicolored translucency and been split down the middle, with the consumer products moving toward a glossy white coloring and opaque finishes and the professional products gaining industrial brushed aluminium. The former soft, bulging shapes have been replaced by more streamlined, orthogonal, minimalist shapes.

It seems that the success and wide embrace of Apple's iPod has had a lasting effect on Ive and his design team. Some have noted the striking similarity of the iPod's design with the subsequent iMac G5 and Mac mini designs. Apple even promoted the release of the iMac G5 as coming "from the creators of iPod", and in the accompanying promotional photographs the products were shown next to each other in profile, highlighting the similarities in their design.


A fifth generation iPod, one of Apple's most recognized industrial designs.

Critics regard Ive's work as being among the best in industrial design, and his team's products have repeatedly won awards such as the Industrial Designers Association of America's Industrial Design Excellence Award.

Jonathan was awarded the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), for the iPod design, in the Queen’s New Year Honours list. The Queen was revealed as being an iPod owner in June 2005, and despite her age - 79 years old, she has a £169 silver iPod.

Ive was the winner of the Design Museum's inaugural Designer of the Year award in 2002, and won again in 2003. In 2004, he was a juror for the award.

Ive is known to be unselfish in how he is attributed: In interviews, for example, he always emphasises the teamwork that goes into the products for which he receives recognition and fame.

London's Sunday Times named Ive as one of Britain's most influential expatriates on 27 November 2005: "Ive may not be the richest or the most senior figure on the list, but he has certainly been one of the most influential... The man who designed the iPod and many more of Apple's most iconic products has shaken up both the music and the electronics industry." Ive was number three on a list of 25.

Ive was also listed in the 2006 New Years Honours list, receiving a CBE, for services to the design industry.

A recent MacWorld poll listed Ive joining Apple in 1992 as the sixth most significant event in Apple history, while MacUser (a subsidiary of MacWorld) writer Dan Moren suggested recently that, when the time comes for Steve Jobs to step down as CEO of Apple, Ive would be an excellent candidate for the position, as he "embodies what Apple is perhaps most famous for: design." [1]

Jonathan Ive (as Johnny Ive) was the recipient of the first public phone call from the iPhone at Macworld 2007.

Personal life

Ive is married to a historian, and is the father of twins. The couple live in a two bed house outside San Francisco, and Ive drives an Aston Martin[1].

See also