February 21, 2015

"We were in [Jony] Ive’s black Bentley, which is as demure as a highly conspicuous luxury car can be."

"The hood barely sloped, and it met the car's front end at a tightly curved corner that mirrored the iPhone 6 in Ive’s left hand... Ive would prefer an unobserved life, but he likes nice things. He also has an Aston Martin DB4. He acquired his first Bentley, a two-door model, ten years ago, after an inner zigzag between doubt and self-justification. 'I’ve always loved the big old-school square Bentleys,' he said. 'The reasons are entirely design-based. But because of the other connotations I resisted and resisted, and then I thought, This is the most bizarre vanity, because I’m concerned that people will perceive me to be this way—I’m not. So I’m going to—' A pause. 'And so I am uncomfortable about it.' Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice-president of operations, drives an old Toyota Camry. Ive’s verdict, according to Williams, is 'Oh, God.'"

From "The Shape of Things to Come/How an industrial designer became Apple’s greatest product" by Ian Parker in The New Yorker.

Ive would prefer an unobserved life, but he likes nice things. Ha ha. Don't we all? Except that senior vice-president of operations with his.. Oh, God... Camry.
I had previously asked Ive about the rounded corners and edges that have long helped distinguish an Apple product from a ThinkPad or a book.... For each product, Jobs and Ive would discuss corners “for hours and hours.” [Laurene Powell Jobs] later noted that she and Ive share a taste for Josef Frank, the Austrian-Swedish designer of rounded furniture and floral fabrics, who once announced, in a lecture, "No hard corners: humans are soft and shapes should be, too."

10 comments:

rehajm said...

I’m concerned that people will perceive me to be this way—I’m not. So I’m going to—' A pause. 'And so I am uncomfortable about it.'

As one of the greatest designers in history the only thing Ive should be uncomfortable about is that he is uncomfortable about it.

Moose said...

Cultural flatulence.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

So millionaire Jeff Williams drives an old Camry, huh? What kind of house does he live in? What kind of clothes does he wear, what kind of food? Does he own other cars, luxury cars, racing cars, a private jet? Where does he stay when he travels, in first class hotels, or Motel 6? My guess is that the old Camry is a lone blind that a guilty millionaire presents to his subordinate workers so they will think, "He's not so bad, he drives a car like mine."

David said...

A friend of a friend had a beautiful cream colored Bentley convertible. He gave me a ride, a nice long ride. He did not offer to let me drive. Just as well. It would simply have spoiled me. Before that ride I would have said no car is worth spending $300,000+. How wrong I was.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't know. Given many millions of dollars and the option of buying any car, I would drive a new Honda Odyssey. (I could drive one now, but I prefer not to spend a significant percentage of income on cars. I like them cheap. Never worry about them.) Some people aren't into cars.

Buying an extremely expensive car would only appeal to me if it were historically or scientifically significant and would be immediately donated to a museum.

That's not virtue talking. It's disinterest.

traditionalguy said...

I wonder if Ive is designing the new iCar for Apple?

Anonymous said...

The Camry used to be a thing with engineers in SV. At the time, it was built well, to last, and showed that you, as an engineer, understood these values over luxury brand name. Williams may be from that era, so he'd be showing his old school coolness rather than that he was "one of the folks."

Laslo Spatula said...

Big Star "Big Black Car"

Driving in my big black car
Nothing can go wrong
I'm going and I don't know how far
So, so long.

Maybe I'll sleep in a Holiday Inn
Nothing can hurt me
Nothing can touch me
Why should I care?
Driving's a gas
It ain't gonna last.

Sunny day, highway
If it rains it's all the same.
I can't feel a thing
I can't feel a thing

I've got a big black car.

Nothing can hurt me
Nothing can touch me
Why should I care?
Driving's a gas
It ain't gonna last.

The lights above, oh yes.
I see the stars above


I am Laslo.

Kzookitty said...

Classic Bentley's look great, Camry's are sturdy little beasts.

I have found Apple products, over the company's history, to be pretty ugly. Apple ii wasn't too bad, but they seemed stuck on the rancid cream color. And remember the iMac G3? Ungainly and ugly. As for what was under the hood, never had a jackhammer when I needed one.

kzookitty

Peter said...

The industrial design of an iPhone is not the enclosure, it's the user interface presented by the code that runs on it.

Industrial design is important for a car, but not so much for a product whose physical design is little more than a thin rectangle with a screen. Yes, it should feel nice in your hand, and the few buttons left on it should be where they're convenient to use (but not likely to be used accidentally).

But isn't a cellphone (or tablet) inherently a minimalist physical design, one in which pretty much everything that matters is virtual?