Designers speak out on "the new Steve Jobs"

Sir Jonathan Ive now has creative control of both product and interface design at Apple. Should we be celebrating? Leading designers give their views...

The recent organisational changes at Apple cemented British designer Sir Jonathan Ive's position as the second most important man in the company.

Following the departure of Scott Forstall, formerly senior vice president of iOS Software, Ive now has responsibility for the brand’s interface design, in addition to his role leading product design. Consequently, many commentators now see him as the "new Steve Jobs" - the creative muse to CEO Tim Cook, who's expected to have greater focus on operational matters.

The wider design role for Ive has pleased Apple's investors, but is it good news in terms of the evolving design of Apple products and interfaces? We canvassed some leading designers to find out their views - here's what they had to say...

Dan Mall says

Dan Mall

"I'm pretty excited to see what comes of Sir Jonathan Ive's appointment as a leader for Human Interface software at Apple.

"In the same way that we urge web designers to learn to code, I'm hopeful that having the person in charge of hardware now having visible influence over software will help to create an even more cohesive product."

Dan Mall is founder and design director at SuperFriendly and cofounder of Typedia.

Paul Boag says

Paul Boag

"I have mixed feelings about the appointment of Jony Ive to oversee user interface design at Apple.

"On one hand this represents a move away from the extreme skeuomorphic design we have seen from Apple. In my opinion this is a good thing. Although using metaphors people understand can be helpful, there is no reason to use the kind of extreme texturing and detail we have seen in iOS.

"On the other hand, I am concerned that Jony Ive does not have experience in user interface design. He is primarily a hardware designer and so it is unknown what direction he will take.

"That said, it is good to see change in the direction of design at Apple and Jony Ive is certainly as a safe pair of hands."

Paul Boag is the founder of UK web design agency Headscape.

Dan Moat says

Dan Moat

"I think Ive taking the role is an interesting move, and one clearly geared toward getting the feel of the physical device onto the screen. For me there's definitely a bit of a leap between the sleek designs of the hardware and the wood and leather which shows up a lot in the current UI style; I am in no doubt that is a gap Ive will will attempt to close.

"I'm sure there is some concern from fans of Forstall's work so far that as a specialist in industrial design will not be able to take to the role as well as a UI/UX specialist would, but Apple clearly know what they are doing here; Ive has more than earned himself the benefit of the doubt with his work on the array of iDevices and MacBooks he has taken the lead with."

Dan Moat is a freelance graphic design operating from his UK-based studio Tahninial.

James Parker says

James Parker

"Designing hardware and UI are two very different things, and the arguments for and against this addition to Ive's responsibilities reminds me a bit of the convergence of print and digital design.

"When the print industry started to fade, designers started to adapt their skill-set so that they could take on projects for web. Because of this design on the web has changed massively, and 'rules' which were once seen as mandatory in a digital world were suddenly broken, some for better, some for worse.

"Ive doesn't need to justify his talent and ability to anyone, but this move could prove to be more important than many people think. I'm certainly optimistic!"

James Parker has designed and developed websites for the likes of BBC Worldwide, Samsung and Tesco.

Rob Hampson says

Rob Hampson

"I'm really excited about the appointment. Jony Ive has achieved a legendary status for producing incredibly simple and beautiful products inspired by the Dieter Rams principles. Even Dieter Rams himself has commented on Ive's fantastic ability.

"It will be very interesting to see how Jony applies these industrial principles to the iOS UI and watch things transition from the current skeuomorphic style to a more refined aesthetic."

Rob Hampson is a senior designer at Maido.

Joe Tuckwell says

Movie posters Joe Tuckwell

Joe Tuckwell

"I think the appointment is interesting one. Jonathan clearly believes strongly in the design process behind the products, but will his existing product design processes and experience translate into effective user interface design?

"If anything I see the integration between hardware and software becoming tighter - fewer touches but more intuitive."

Joe Tuckwell is founder & director at creative digital agency Moresoda.

Shane Mielke says

Movie posters Shane Mielke

"I think that this appointment will be great for the unification of Apple’s overall interface design strategy. While most of the content in the app store needs design gimmicks and trendy styles for attention, that isn’t the case for the OS- or iOS-specific apps that exist by default.

"Ive is a proven leader with clout, leadership and a strong creative vision, which is what it will take to unify and guide the interface design for a company like Apple."

Shane Mielke is a designer and creative director.

David Martin says

David Martin

"Brilliant! Jony Ive has become the face and driver of "Apple Beauty". Both hardware and iOS design require a leader with a passion for the user experience and beauty.

"If Jony understands how to maximise both and understands their Achilles heels, he is set up for success and will likely drive the legacy to new heights."

David Martin is CEO and founder of international creative agency Fi.

What do YOU think of Sir Jonathan Ive's new role at Apple? Discuss it in the comments section below!

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