Jonathan Ive: 'names can determine design path'

AFP Relax21 February 2013

Apple's chief designer, Jonathan Ive, explained to a children's TV show the creative limitations of naming a product before it is finished.

In an interview on British TV program "Blue Peter," the British designer used the example of a lunchbox to illustrate Apple's approach to creating products and ensuring that design is not limited by vocabulary.

"If we're thinking of lunchbox, we would be really careful about not having the word ‘box' already, you know, give you a bunch of ideas that could be very narrow. Because you think of a box as being square and like a cube. And so we're quite careful with the words we use because those can sort of determine the path that you go down," he said.

This approach explains why the iPod wasn't given any name, other than being referred to as part of Apple's ‘Digital Hub' strategy, until the final prototype was finished. The naming honors went to Vinnie Chieco, one of several copywriters who were called into Apple's HQ to learn about the device, play with it and hopefully come up with a suitable name. The story goes that when Steve Jobs explained the hub strategy and how the device would connect to a Mac, Chieco started thinking of spaceships and in particular the film "2001" and the line "Open the pod bay door, Hal!"

The computer was the mothership and the music player the pod in the analogy, or, because it was an Apple product, an ‘iPod.'

Born in northeast London in 1967, Jonathan 'Jony' Ive attended the same school that one of the UK's other biggest exports, David Beckham, would also attend nine years later, and after graduating university with a degree in industrial design worked as a power tool designer before moving to the US and joining Apple aged 25.

The senior vice president for industrial design recently had his remit extended to include the look and feel of Apple's software as well as its hardware.