Apple

Jonathan Ive et l'avenir de Apple

Par Maximus , le 17 juin 2019 - 90 minutes de lecture

I. jour de lancement

Au cours des derniers mois, Sir Jonathan Ive, vice-président directeur du design chez Apple, âgé de 47 ans, avait l'habitude de jouer au rugby au secondaire et a toujours un poids lourd qu'il porte un peu penaud, comme s’il s’est assis, sur un tabouret en aluminium du studio de design d’Apple, ou sur la banquette arrière en cuir crème de sa Bentley Mulsanne, une voiture pour un chef d'État, il émettra probablement un gémissement doux et ironique. Sa manière suggère le fardeau d'être pleinement apprécié. Au cours des deux dernières décennies, il a envisagé de quitter Apple, mais il est resté, devenant un ami intime de Steve Jobs et établissant la construction et la finition de l'iMac, du MacBook, de l'iPod, de l'iPhone et de l'iPad. . Il est maintenant l’une des deux personnes les plus puissantes de la société la plus précieuse au monde. Il écoute parfois la radio CNBC lors de son trajet d'une heure entre San Francisco et les bureaux d'Apple, dans la Silicon Valley, mais il est mal à l'aise de savoir que cent mille employés d'Apple s'appuient sur sa décision – son goût – et l'annonce soudaine de sa la retraite tiendrait une embuscade aux actionnaires d'Apple. (Pour prendre un chiffre: une chute de dix pour cent de la valorisation de Apple représente soixante et un milliards de dollars.) Selon Laurene Powell Jobs, veuve de Steve Jobs, proche de Ive et de sa famille, «Jony est un artiste au tempérament artistique, et il serait le premier à vous dire que les artistes ne sont pas censés être responsables de ce genre de chose. "

Un matin de septembre, Ive s’entretenait avec quelques amis, dont Chris Martin, de Coldplay, et Stephen Fry, acteur et écrivain britannique, dans une cour à côté d’un hall d’un collège communautaire, à quelques kilomètres du siège d’Apple, à Cupertino. Il portait un pantalon large et pâle, une coupe comme pour un chef, et des chaussures Clarks de couleur suède, et ses cheveux étaient coupés. Il maintenait un look capturé dans une figure Playmobil de lui, que ses collègues designers ont faite comme cadeau de Noël il y a quelques années. L'Ive de sept pouces portait des lunettes de soleil et portait un porte-documents Valextra blanc cassé. Une photo du cadeau est l’image d’écran de verrouillage sur l’iPhone d’Ive.

Ive se passait la main sur le haut de la tête et parlait doucement. Il est impeccablement attentif, avec des sourcils froncés et des excuses pour le retard ou l’agitation au travail, et il semble étendre ce ton à tout le monde, y compris vraisemblablement à l’équipage de son Gulfstream GV de vingt places, qu’il a acheté à Powell Jobs après elle. la mort de son mari, en 2011. Il communique avec son ami le créateur de mode britannique Paul Smith, principalement par le biais de cartes postales qui, comme Smith l'a récemment rappelé, contiennent «des mots comme« charmant »,« spécial »,alors sympa, une langue qui est particulière à sa douceur. "

Plus tard dans la matinée, Apple annonçait de nouveaux produits et services, lors du type d’événement que la société, telle une maison de couture, organise plusieurs fois par an. Sur un millier de participants attendus, quelques dizaines avaient été invités dans la cour des coulisses. Parmi les invités figuraient Rupert Murdoch; Kevin Durant, du Thunder d'Oklahoma City; Marissa Mayer, de Yahoo; Jimmy Iovine, le C.E.O. de battements; et le rappeur et entrepreneur Sean Combs. (Fry a plus tard fait référence affectueusement à «Snoop Seany Sean», qui était aimable quand Fry l’avait presque imbibé d’un verre renversé.) Ce jour-là, une centaine de chaînes de montage à Zhengzhou, en Chine, étaient en train de produire de nouveaux iPhones encore secrets 75 000 heures, et des rumeurs sur de nouveaux produits Apple, y compris une montre, ont été mises en ligne à peu près au même rythme. Tim Cook, directeur informatique d’Apple, se trouvait quelque part à proximité, se préparant à parler à une salle remplie d’enthousiastes et de journalistes et à des millions de personnes en ligne. Mais le rôle d’Ive se limitait largement à boire du café sous un soleil brumeux. Des emplois ont dispensé la plupart des tâches de parler en public, et il s’est tenu à la dispensation.

«Je suis timide», a déclaré Ive. Son accent londonien est intact après plus de vingt ans d'absence. «Je suis toujours concentré sur le travail réel, et je pense que c'est une façon beaucoup plus succincte de décrire ce qui compte pour vous, pas n'importe quel discours de ma vie.» Il avait l'air calme, mais il tremblait des mains, comme s'il essayait jeter du chewing-gum du bout des doigts.

Derrière Ive, Steve Wozniak, cofondateur de Apple avec Jobs en 1976, portait une montre noire steam-punk de la taille d'un cendrier. ("Quoi est J'ai demandé plus tard, rhétoriquement, à un simulacre d'affrontement lors de sa conception.) Un collègue a dit à Ive que du jour au lendemain, des gens avaient formé des lignes devant les magasins Apple, en supposant à tort que de nouveaux appareils seraient disponibles ce jour-là. Ive se souvenait de la première fois où il avait fait la queue: ses parents l'avaient emmené à l'exposition de Toutankhamon au British Museum à l'âge de cinq ans.

La journée comprenait un film de dix minutes. La réticence d’Ive à parler sur scène a été compensée par sa volonté de figurer dans des vidéos scriptées. Ces productions – je parle avec une cadence sincère, la tête penchée en avant comme la lampe Anglepoise de Pixar – sont devenues si connues que Ikea récemment parodié dans une publicité pour son catalogue («un appareil aussi simple et intuitif que l’utiliser semble presque familier»). Ces vidéos servent à ponctuer le message de Jobs sur scène. En l'absence de Jobs, ils portent le message. Les dirigeants actuels d’Apple ne sont pas sans talent pour parler en public, mais ils ne peuvent pas égaler le charisme de Jobs, qui était renforcés par un soupçon de menace, et leurs performances peuvent évoquer l'informalité maladroite – la danse dans les longes – d'une retraite d'entreprise. En revanche, l’Ive virtuel semble émerger du même lieu ordonné et décontaminé qu’un produit Apple. Il semble «rationnel» et «inévitable», pour utiliser le langage typique. Sur la page Web des biographies des dirigeants d’Apple, quatorze hommes et femmes sourient; Ive, l'outsider interne, fait face à la caméra avec la gravité de la couverture de l'album.

Le nouveau film ne montrait pas le visage d’Ive, mais il l’avait raconté et en grande partie dirigé et monté. Ce travail a été réalisé dans le studio de design d’Apple, qui regroupe dix-neuf designers industriels dont la notoriété publique – même si leur travail est devenu incontournable – n’a rarement dépassé les mentions mentionnées dans les dépôts de brevets et les déclarations sous serment. Dans une entreprise aux ressources marketing inépuisables, l’auteur du film proposé par Ive suggère de la minutie face à la séduction de son travail. Mais c’était aussi une affirmation de propriété que Jobs aurait pu apprécier elle-même. Les designers d’Apple ont longtemps exercé une influence sur la société, ce qui n’était guère imaginable pour la plupart des designers d’ailleurs. Ce pouvoir «leur a été conféré par Steve et mis en application par Steve, et il est devenu culturellement intégré», comme le décrit Robert Brunner, qui a donné son premier emploi à Apple et dirigé le groupe de design d'Apple dans la première moitié des dix-neuf ans. années quatre-vingt-dix, avant que cette culture s'installe. Jeremy Kuempel, un ingénieur qui avait fait un stage dans l'entreprise il y a quelques années et qui a lancé depuis une start-up dans une machine à café, m'a dit que lorsqu'un designer rejoignait une réunion chez Apple, c'était «comme si j'étais à l'église quand le prêtre se présente». Brunner pense désormais que «Jony a assumé l’âme créative de la société».

Le cinéaste et metteur en scène, J. J. Abrams, est un ami d’Ive, mais il n’a pas pu assister au lancement en septembre, car il tournait à Londres dans Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Plus tard, il m’a raconté que j’avais partagé certaines des nouvelles de la société à l’avance et qu’ils avaient discuté «du fait que nous travaillions tous les deux sur des projets qui suscitaient beaucoup d’attentes et d’anticipations. absurde.«Si j'ai appris à faire face à toute une série de médias avant le lancement – des photographies de composants saisies, des maquettes de produits imaginaires – Abrams semble en raffoler. Alors que l'événement en Californie se déroulait, il a publié une image sur Twitter à l'aide du hashtag #AppleWatch: une carte manuscrite («Pourquoi ai-je soudainement ce besoin désespéré de posséder un regarder? Bon sang, Apple !!! ”) allongé sur une surface polie qui semblait offrir un premier aperçu de l'intérieur d'une nouvelle étoile de la mort.

Quelques semaines plus tôt, lors de ma première rencontre avec Ive, il avait porté une montre Jaeger-LeCoultre qu’il avait personnalisée avec un vieil ami, le designer australien Marc Newson, pour une vente aux enchères au profit de Project Red, l’organisation caritative co-dirigeante. fondée par Bono; ils ont fabriqué trois montres et en ont gardé une chacune; le troisième vendu pour trois cent soixante mille dollars. Mais maintenant, dans la cour des multimillionnaires, Ive avait le poignet nu, et il le resterait encore quelques heures. Il a parlé d’arriver bientôt «à une époque aussi rare, quand nous sommes terminéet nous avons la possibilité d’en parler. »Il a ajouté:« C’est assez étrange. Où nous en sommes, pour le moment, nous n'en avons pas parlé et nous pouvons rester ici dans quelques heures, et des millions et des millions de personnes le sauront. "Il poursuivit:" Vous partez de quelque chose que vous sentez très protecteur vis-à-vis de, et vous vous sentez très à l'aise avec, et tout à coup, ce n'est plus à vous, et c'est à tous Et c’est très – je pense que le mot «traumatique» est probablement surestimé, mais c’est un moment très important dans le temps. »Il sourit. «Ce sont des moments très poignants. C’est tellement numérique. C’est tellement binaire.

Newson était venu au rassemblement et pendant un moment, j'ai murmuré affectueusement avec lui et Powell Jobs. Avant de rentrer à l’intérieur, Ive a salué Reed, le fils de Powell Jobs, âgé de 23 ans, dont les cheveux jusqu’à la longueur du col soulignaient sa ressemblance avec son père du même âge. Je le pris dans mes bras et exhalai: «Ahh!

Dans la salle, Ive a pris une place au premier rang, avec Marc Newson à sa gauche et Chris Martin à sa droite. Tim Cook est venu sur scène. Les spectateurs ont applaudi deux iPhones redessinés et un nouveau système de paiement sans contact, introduit avec un film qui – comme des infopublicités montrant des interactions catastrophiques avec Tupperware ou avec des tuyaux d'arrosage – a peut-être exagéré la difficulté de prendre une carte de crédit de sa poche. Puis Cook a emprunté la phrase de son prédécesseur: "Encore une chose". Peu de temps après, les bijoux volaient à travers l'espace blanc et Ive parlait de "beaux objets aussi simples et purs que fonctionnels".

II. Le studio

Quelques semaines plus tôt, au siège d’Apple, Ive a rappelé qu’en 1997, la société semblait mourir autour de lui. «Chaque histoire que vous aviez lue, chaque matin avant de venir au travail, commençait par la phrase« Le fabricant d’ordinateurs assiégé, Apple », a-t-il déclaré. Ive avait alors trente ans; après cinq ans passés dans l'entreprise, il en était devenu le responsable du design industriel. "Il y avait un Filaire couverture qui avait un grand logo Apple avec une couronne de fil de fer barbelé, comme des épines, et dessous il vient de dire, "PRIER. ’Je me souviens de cela parce que c’était bouleversant. Essentiellement, on peut dire: soit on va tout simplement faire faillite, soit on va l’acheter.

le Filaire article paru que juin. Le mois suivant, Jobs, qui avait quitté Apple douze ans plus tôt avant de lancer Pixar et NeXT, est revenu au poste de directeur de l’acquisition de Apple pour remplacer Gilbert Amelio. Jobs et Ive ont eu une première réunion intense. J’ai dit: «Je ne me souviens pas vraiment de ce qui s’est passé vraiment avant, de rencontrer quelqu'un alors que c’est comme ça», dit-il en claquant des doigts. «C'était la chose la plus bizarre, où nous étions peut-être un peu, un peu bizarres. Nous n’avions pas l'habitude de cliquer.

En supposant le pire, Ive avait une lettre de démission dans sa poche. En effet, l’instinct initial de Jobs était d’engager un nouveau designer. Il avait contacté Richard Sapper, qui avait conçu le ThinkPad de I.B.M., une boîte à cigares noire. (Sapeur était tenté, me dit-il, un peu triste, mais ne voulait pas abandonner son contrat avec IBM pour une "toute petite entreprise".) Jobs avait également rencontré Hartmut Esslinger, qui, en tant que consultant, était le secteur industriel d'Apple. designer dans les années quatre-vingt. Dans un e-mail, Esslinger se souvenait avoir déclaré à Jobs que l'équipe existante d'Apple, y compris Ive, «était très talentueuse et compétente si elle était dirigée de manière appropriée». Esslinger, qui a plus de gourmand en design que Ive, tient également à ce que s'est passé ensuite: il a encouragé Steve Jobs à recentrer l'entreprise sur «l'évolution des tendances en matière de consommation numérique».

Jobs s'est rendu au studio de design et, comme je l'ai rappelé, a déclaré: «Putain, tu n'as pas été très efficace, n'est-ce pas?». Ce n'était qu'un compliment partiel. Jobs pouvait voir que le travail du studio avait de la valeur, même si on pouvait reprocher à Ive de ne pas avoir communiqué sa valeur à la société. Au cours de la visite, Ive a déclaré que Jobs "devenait de plus en plus confiant et très heureux de notre capacité à travailler ensemble." Ce jour-là, selon Ive, ils ont commencé à collaborer sur ce qui est devenu l'iMac. Peu de temps après, Apple a lancé sa campagne «Think Different» (Penser différemment) et je l’ai perçue comme un rappel de l’importance de «ne pas s’excuser, ne pas définir un moyen de réagir à ce que Dell vient de faire». Il a poursuivi: «Mon intuition Bien, mais ma capacité à exprimer ce que j’ai ressenti n’était pas très bonne et reste très mauvaise, frustrante. Et c’est ce qui est difficile, car Steve n’est pas ici à présent. "(Au mémorial de Jobs, je l’ai appelé" mon ami le plus proche et le plus fidèle ").

Ive était assis dans un coin du studio de design industriel du premier étage d’Apple, devant une fenêtre translucide qui ne laissait voir que les ombres des branches d’arbres. Le bureau du coin situé au dernier étage de Steve Jobs, intact depuis sa mort, se trouve à un maillon, dans le cercle de six bâtiments banals du campus, disposés autour d’une pelouse. Le campus, sur une rue nommée Infinite Loop, a été construit au début des années 90. Un couloir couvert relie One Infinite Loop (bureau de l’emploi) et Two Infinite Loop (laboratoire Ive). Juste avant de m'emmener dans le studio pour la première fois, il a remarqué que tous les bâtiments étaient reliés de la même façon. Un collègue l'a corrigé: ce n'était vrai que de One and Two. Ive a dit: «Vraiment?» L’erreur a suggéré quelque chose sur la place du studio de design dans l’univers Apple. Il a également suggéré que l'aménagement d'un nouveau campus en construction à proximité – une tour bas de forme circulaire avec un diamètre de seize cent pieds – pourrait avoir un lien en grande partie symbolique avec la convivialité du lieu de travail.

Une invitation à visiter le studio d’Apple est rare et est refusée même à la plupart des employés. À l'intérieur de la porte, un vestibule interne en acier inoxydable de dix pieds de long sert de sas à air. L’opinion de l’opinion se limite en grande partie au bureau de Harper Alexander, un chef de bureau, qui – dans une culture d’entreprise régie par des réticences – a une présence anormalement vivante sur Twitter. ("En jouant compter les corbeaux et hootie dans le studio de design Apple. Tous ceux qui aiment Euro douchepop viennent de mourir littéralement. ”)

Ce matin-là, le douchepop – un mélange comprenant Yaz et The Rapture – était réglé à faible volume, de même que les employés, qui parlaient en murmurant et se déplaçaient silencieusement sur des chaussures de sport. Plus tard dans la journée, j'ai rencontré Eugene Whang, l'un des concepteurs; il a fait référence à une deuxième carrière en tant que d.j. et un promoteur musical, et a noté que nous écoutions un ensemble qu’il avait joué avec un ami au Bain, à l’Hôtel Standard, dans le quartier de l’emballage de viande de New York. (Il ne suffit pas d'avoir co-créé l'iPhone.) Whang et ses collègues, parmi lesquels un surfeur d'origine autrichienne, Julian Hönig, qui avait l'habitude de concevoir les Lamborghini, ont tendance à être aussi discrets que leur patron et à être célèbres. s'étend à peine au-delà de la porte du studio. Mais leur multinationalisme et leur vie de richesse individuelle et de réputation partagée seraient familiers aux joueurs de football des plus grandes équipes d’Europe. Apple emploie trois recruteurs dont la seule tâche est d'identifier les concepteurs à rejoindre le groupe; ils en trouvent peut-être un par an. Il y a peu de temps, Whang a mis en ligne une photo d'un bel hélicoptère blanc, intitulée: «Le nouveau service aérien de Mori City de Narita à Tokyo est incroyable. 30 minutes de temps de trajet total. C’est cher, mais ça vaut parfois le coup. L'édition Hermès est recouverte de toile classique, de garnitures en cuir et de sièges en cuir de veau. ”

Ive, vêtue d'un t-shirt bleu roi, était affable, mais il y avait peu d'ironie anglaise. "Je pense que vous pouvez réserver cela pour le divertissement", a-t-il déclaré plus tard. "Et ne pratiquez pas de manière aussi professionnelle." Dans nos conversations, son comportement pouvait parfois être troublant car il combinait la tendre attention d'un bénévole en prévention du suicide: "J'étais jamais chanceux"; "JE faire espérons que vous aurez un bon vol "- avec le désir de faire passer la conversation de le particulier au général; ses réponses, cherchant le sol sûr d’une pensée précédemment exprimée, tournaient souvent en boucle et étaient couvertes, ou dérivaient dans un soupir. À première tentative, Ive a passé les vingt-cinq premières années de sa vie en soixante mots; il m'a dit quel roman il lisait seulement après avoir désigné la réponse de façon officieuse.

Ce matin-là, je m’avais dit que, avant que Jobs ne remplace Amelio, le travail du studio sur un périphérique de type iMac «n’intéressait pas la société». Le commentaire était surprenant: j’ai tendance à être extrêmement courtois avec ses employeurs. (Dans un livre de 1997, il a été cité: "Gilbert Amelio accorde plus de soutien au design industriel que n’importe quel PDG de l’histoire d’Apple". Il a également déclaré: "Pour un designer, il ne saurait y avoir d’endroit plus passionnant moment que Apple. ”) Sa personnalité publique n’est pas simplement une preuve de fidélité; il a une résistance sérieuse de la part des hommes face aux anecdotes perçues et un réel inconfort face à l’exposition personnelle. Cependant, l’effet est le même: pour Ive, son histoire personnelle est à peine digne d’être racontée. Cette habitude de modestie rhétorique a été récemment compliquée par une vérité commerciale impudique: plus que jamais, est l'entreprise.

Après avoir traversé le vestibule, j’ai dit: «Je ne saurais trop insister: je pense qu’il ya quelque chose de très spécial dans la pratique nous sommes. Et vous pouvez, selon votre point de vue, le décrire peut-être à l'ancienne et traditionnelle, ou très efficace. »À notre gauche, une cuisine ouverte avec des tables et des bancs, une machine à expresso Faema d'époque et un mur de livres comprenant «100 montres Superlative Rolex» et une étude de Joe Colombo, le designer le plus connu pour ses chariots de rangement Kartell aux angles arrondis. La cuisine coulait dans une zone de postes de travail individuels. À notre droite, une salle bien éclairée abritait une douzaine de tables de travail en chêne, disposées en rangées soignées, sur un sol en béton poli.

La pièce mesure environ 3 000 pieds carrés, bien que sa réputation démesurée l’ait amenée à être qualifiée de «caverneuse». Elle se termine par un mur de verre derrière lequel se trouvent trois fraiseuses à commande numérique par ordinateur (CNC). cette forme plastique et métal pour produire des modèles et des pièces prototypes. Lors de la conception de l'espace, au tournant du siècle, il souhaitait que ces machines soient intégrées au studio autant que le permettaient les nuisances sonores et les poussières. «Ils fabriquent des objets physiques, et c’est ce que nous faisons», m’at-il dit. Les machines à fraiser permettent de transformer un studio en atelier. ils renforcent le point de vue d’Ive selon lequel un mauvais design industriel commence souvent par l’ignorance de ce qu’un matériau peut ou ne peut pas faire.

Les tables de travail sont plus hautes qu'un bureau mais un peu plus basses que les tables Apple Store qu'elles ont inspirées. Cette hauteur, atteinte après de longues réflexions, convient aux études et aux visites debout. (En risquant de me parodier, j'ai plus tard évoqué la «simplicité et la modestie» de cet arrangement.) Samsung Electronics vend des aspirateurs ainsi que des téléphones et emploie un millier de designers. Les intentions d’Apple peuvent être révélées dans une pièce. Chaque table sert un produit, une pièce de produit ou un concept de produit unique; certains de ces objets sont programmés pour la fabrication; d'autres pourraient arriver sur le marché dans trois ou cinq ans, ou jamais. «Une table peut être encombrée par une foule d'idées différentes, peut-être la résolution de problèmes pour une fonctionnalité en particulier», m'a confié plus tard Hönig, l'ancien designer de Lamborghini. Puis, un jour, tout le fouillis est parti. Il a ri: «En gros, c’est le vainqueur. Ce que nous avons collectivement décidé est le meilleur. »Les concepteurs consacrent une grande partie de leur temps à la manipulation de modèles et de matériaux, parfois aux côtés d’ingénieurs Apple. Les emplois venaient presque tous les jours. Si j'avais pénétré une heure plus tôt, j'aurais vu une exposition sur l'avenir probable. À présent, toutes les tables, à l'exception de quelques tables, étaient recouvertes de feuilles de soie grise et je savais seulement que cet avenir ne serait pas plus grand qu'une bouilloire électrique.

Le drap recouvrant la table la plus proche de la porte était curieusement plat. "C'est en fait compliqué", dit Ive, ressentant à travers le matériau. «Cela aura un sens plus tard. Je ne plaisante pas du tout avec toi, je te le promets. "

Dans un environnement constitué de draps de poussière et de murs non décorés, un sac de noix Whole Foods placé sur une étagère réclame à haute voix l'attention. Mais le minimalisme de la pièce découle davantage de la non-divulgation que du dogme. L’esthétique d’Ive n’est pas austère: on pourrait penser que le travail effectué ici est l’idée exubérante d’un homme réticent, l’enlèvement étant exprimé par le déclic magnétique d’un adaptateur secteur. Richard Seymour, un designer britannique qui connaît Ive depuis des années, a récemment évoqué le «modernisme émotionnellement chaleureux» de son ami. Clive Grinyer, ami et ancien collègue londonien d'Ive's, a déclaré d'un ton appréciant: «Il a toujours été un peu bling-bling». Paola Antonelli, conservateur en chef du design et de l’architecture chez MoMA, qui a ajouté de nombreux produits Apple à la collection du musée, a salué l’innovation selon laquelle un ordinateur portable fermé était en mode "veille": une lumière brillait douze fois par minute, à la manière d’une personne reposante. «Jony sait que j'ai été transpercée», a-t-elle dit. "Ils ont dû l'abandonner parce que cela empêchait les gens de dormir lorsqu'il était sur la table de chevet." (Apple contesta cette explication.) "C'était rond et palpitant et c'était juste incroyable."

Une porte s'ouvrit brièvement et je vis des éclats de couleur épinglés à un mur. (Ceci, j’ai expliqué plus tard, était la salle de conférence Le film Apple Watch était en train d’être scénarisé.) Nous nous sommes ensuite arrêtés dans le bureau d’Ive, un carré de douze pieds séparé du studio par un mur de verre. Sur les étagères, Ive avait placé sa ressemblance avec Playmobil et des cadeaux similaires, ainsi que des dizaines de carnets de croquis personnalisés avec des couvertures bleues et des liserés argent. Sur le sol, derrière un bureau de Marc Newson, se trouvait un ballon de rugby. Des images superposées se sont appuyées contre le mur: une estampe Banksy représentant la reine avec le visage d'un chimpanzé et une affiche bien connue dans les milieux de la conception qui commence par «Crois en toi. Restez debout toute la nuit putain ", et se termine, plusieurs avertissements plus tard," Pensez à toutes les possibilités putain. "

Ce texte pourrait être considéré comme un complément aux principes de conception définis par Dieter Rams, le designer allemand célèbre pour ses œuvres claires, aux lignes pures et inspirées du Bauhaus, principalement chez Braun. (J'admire énormément Rams, mais sa dette envers lui a parfois été surestimée et il convient de noter une différence d'échelle dans la fabrication: les produits Braun de Rams se sont vendus par milliers, parfois par millions; Apple a vendu un milliard et demi d'articles conçus par Ive .) Dans la formulation de Rams, un nouvel objet doit être innovant, utile, esthétique, compréhensible, discret, honnête, durable, complet et écologique, et comporter «le moins de design possible». J'ai parcouru un carnet de croquis, donnant Il est temps de voir que, comme Léonard de Vinci, il utilise parfois de l'encre brune. Il y avait un petit dessin de quelque chose qui aurait pu être un verrou et, dans un grand script maigre, les mots «prétention» et «intelligent». Sur une autre page – les concurrents d'Apple peuvent faire avec ce qu'ils veulent – j'ai semblé avoir écrit le mot "Airbug".

De retour dans la pièce principale, j’ai remarqué qu’il regardait «Moon Machines», une vieille série de Discovery Channel sur le programme Apollo. «Nous devions réaliser la nécessité de développer une combinaison spatiale, mais il était difficile de savoir même quels étaient les objectifs», a-t-il déclaré. Et puis il a relié le travail du studio à nasaComme pour le programme Apollo, la création de produits Apple nécessitait «invention après invention, invention après invention, dont vous ne seriez jamais conscient, mais qui était nécessaire pour faire quelque chose de nouveau.» C’est un tic que je suis venu à reconnaître: l'auto-promotion motivée par la crainte que son propre effacement puisse être pris trop littéralement. Même si les objectifs d’Apple s’efforcent de gagner du temps, il est clair qu’on espère que l’effort demandé – le «grand degré de prudence», les années d’enquêtes sur de nouveaux matériaux, les mois passés à imposer des chemins tranchants dans les usines asiatiques) sera reconnu.

Nous nous sommes dirigés vers une table basse dans un coin du studio. Les jeunes techniciens en conception d’informatique qui y étaient assis se sont rendus compte, après un moment, sans rien dire, qu’ils devaient bouger. Nous nous sommes assis sur des bancs particulièrement bas et deux des designers d’Ive nous ont rejoints. Jody Akana, qui a la trentaine, a la particularité de posséder une spécialité déclarée: la couleur. Bart André a cinquante ans et figure en tête de la liste des employés Apple avec des brevets de conception. (Jamais auparavant, aucun d'entre eux n'avait parlé à un journaliste.) «J'ai regardé la combinaison spatiale une nuit dernière», a dit Ive à André.

«Ils jouent ensemble, travaillent ensemble et se protègent», a déclaré plus tard Robert Brunner, l'ancien responsable du design chez Apple, à propos de l'équipe. Lors d’une de nos réunions, j’ai rappelé un court article que Bono a écrit sur lui dans Temps. Elle disait: «Le regarder avec ses collègues dans le Saint des Saints, le laboratoire de design d’Apple, ou lors d’une soirée, c’est observer un très rare esprit de corps. Ils aiment leur patron et il les aime. Ce que les concurrents ne semblent pas comprendre, c'est que vous ne pouvez pas amener les gens aussi intelligents à travailler aussi dur pour de l'argent. »Ive, l'ami de Bono, a décrit ces commentaires comme« choquants de perspicacité »- ce qui est une réponse inhabituelle à un éloge, même partagé. . Mais la force et l’avantage professionnel de la solidarité de l’équipe sont l’un des thèmes récurrents d’Ive. Il était déterminé à contrer «méchant», même s'il était peu fréquent, selon lequel l'esprit du studio n'était pas aussi collégial qu'il en avait l'air. Doug Satzger, qui a quitté Apple en 2008 et dirige maintenant le design industriel chez Intel, a déclaré Entreprise rapide Jony a un agenda très politique en ce qui concerne son positionnement au sein de la société. Il me disait: "Chaque fois que tu rencontres Steve, je dois le savoir." »(Satzger a refusé de commenter.)

J'ai dit que dans quinze ans, seuls deux designers ont quitté le studio – l'un d'eux en raison de problèmes de santé. Il considère cela comme un argument décisif sur l'harmonie. Ce n’est pas le cas: beaucoup de gens supportent des lieux de travail malheureux. Mais même les remarques publiques de Satzger ont été largement admiratives. Il est facile d’imaginer que le zèle feutré du studio puisse paraître claustrophobe et priggish. Et il peut être déconcertant de constater que, dans les négociations d’entreprise, les roulements composés d’un concepteur ont une intention robuste. (Richard Howarth, un ancien lieutenant Ive, à la voix basse et britannique, est considéré comme «un dur à cuire, en termes de conduite,» me dit-on en plaisantant à moitié. craignait.”) Mais il est difficile de remettre en question le consensus selon lequel Ive est un bon œuf, aussi vexé que soit conscient de lui-même. Il a la douleur d'un homme qui a pris tous les votes sauf un dans un concours de popularité.

Les membres de l’équipe travaillent douze heures par jour et ne peuvent pas discuter du travail avec des amis. Chaque projet a un concepteur principal, mais presque tout le monde contribue à chaque projet et partage le crédit. (Qui a eu telle ou telle idée? "L'équipe.") Ive décrit son rôle se situant entre deux extrêmes de la direction du design: il n’est pas la source de toute créativité, il n’évalue pas uniquement les propositions de ses collègues. Les grandes idées sont souvent les siennes et il a une opinion sur chaque détail. Les réunions d'équipe ont lieu dans la cuisine deux ou trois fois par semaine et Ive encourage la franchise. «Nous plaçons le produit avant toute autre chose», a-t-il déclaré. «Disons que nous parlons de quelque chose que j’ai fait qui soit laid et mal proportionné – parce que, croyez-moi, je peux tirer quelques beautés du vieux chapeau. . . . C’est bien, et nous le faisons tous, et parfois nous le faisons à plusieurs reprises, et nous avons ces saisons de le faire—

«J'en ai eu un la semaine dernière», a déclaré Akana.

"Lequel?" Demanda-t-il.

«L'emballage, dit-elle.

«C’est vrai», dit Ive en riant. "C'était tellement mauvais."

Akana avait proposé qu'un chiffon Ultrasuede à l'intérieur de la boîte pour une version dorée de l'Apple Watch soit un brun orangé. J'avais objecté avec une hyperbole comique, en la comparant à la moquette d'un appartement d'étudiant lugubre. Dans le même esprit amusé, Akana avait alors demandé: "Alors, vous n’aimez pas ça?"

Le goût de Jobs pour les critiques sans merci était notoire; Je me suis rappelé qu'il y a des années, après avoir vu ses collègues écrasés, il avait protesté. Jobs a répondu: "Pourquoi voudriez-vous être vague?", Arguant que l'ambiguïté était une forme d'égoïsme: "Vous ne vous souciez pas de la ressentir! Vous êtes vaniteux, vous voulez qu’ils vous apprécient. »Ive était furieux, mais m’approuva. «C’est vraiment humiliant de penser que, dans ce désir profond d’être aimé, vous avez compromis de donner des commentaires clairs et sans ambiguïté», a-t-il déclaré. Il a déploré qu’il y ait «tellement d’anecdotes» sur l’acerbe de Jobs: «Son intention et sa motivation ne visaient pas à blesser».

Même si Jobs l’avait sauvé du flou, c’était bizarre pour Ive d’en parler maintenant, tout de suite après avoir appris à rejeter une couleur sans causer de blessure. «J’ai vu Jony profondément frustré, mais je ne l’ai jamais vu hurler», a déclaré Laurene Powell Jobs. Elle a ajouté en riant qu’elle n’aurait pas dit la même chose de son mari. (Et il est difficile d’imaginer que j’utilise un emplacement de stationnement pour personnes handicapées, comme le faisait souvent l’emploi de Jobs, bien avant qu’il ne soit malade.) Ive aime être aimé; l'histoire semblait être une défense préventive de Jobs voilée d'autocritique. C’était aussi une réponse indirecte à la biographie de Jobs publiée par Walter Isaacson en 2011, qui, sans être hostile, comprenait des exemples de méchanceté. Dans une conversation ultérieure, Ive a dit qu’il n’avait lu que certaines parties du livre, mais qu’il en avait vu assez pour ne pas l’aimer, pour ce qu’il appelait des inexactitudes. "Mon estime ne pourrait pas être plus basse", dit-il avec une chaleur inhabituelle.

Ive est allé faire des appels et André a décrit sa propre routine: il a tendance à arriver à cinq ou six heures du matin, et dessine souvent ensuite des objets géométriquement complexes qu'il demande aux moulins de meuler. Il a appelé cela un passe-temps, mais, comme Akana l’a expliqué, "Nous aurons une réunion sur un modèle de trou de haut-parleur, ou quelque chose du genre, et Jony dira:" Bart, pouvez-vous obtenir votre boîte de modèles? "

André a accepté d'aller chercher sur son bureau quelque chose qu'il utilisait comme dessous de verre. Fabriqué en plastique ABS blanc dur, matériau de Legos et de milliers de modèles de studio Apple par an, il s’agissait d’un disque perforé de trous répartis uniformément. Or, as André put it, “There’s a hexagon pattern of negative shapes that are subtracted from the material from one side, and then there’s the same pattern, subtracted from the material from the other side. But it’s offset, so that the intersection between the two subtractions makes interesting shapes.” He rubbed it on his shirt, to remove coffee stains, before passing it to me.

III. Managing Newness

Three years ago, Ive’s responsibilities expanded to include software as well as hardware. He took charge of what Apple calls Human Interface: typefaces, icons, swipes, taps. In 2013, the company released the iOS7 operating system for the iPhone and the iPad, and the overhaul included a new range of sounds for incoming calls, texts, and e-mails. Before, the alerts had mostly a strained, jokey relationship with the real world, as suggested by such names as Duck, Choo Choo, and Doorbell. iOS7 introduced refined snatches of electronica created, in part, by Hugo Verweij, a Dutch sound designer who, before being hired by Ive, had a Web site selling “minimalist ringtones.” (On his blog, Verweij had expressed bafflement with Apple’s “loud and crappy” sounds.) Some Apple customers may have found the new tones unappealing—too modish, or too European—and they may have switched back to the goofy, “classic” sounds that had been relegated to a lower-rung menu. But others may have had the thought, or the half-thought, that the sounds made the phones more coherent—a more natural accompaniment to glass, aluminum, and Helvetica Neue.

Ive manages newness. He helps balance the need to make technological innovations feel approachable, so that they reach a mass market—Choo Choo—with the requirement that they not be ugly and infantile. Apple has made missteps, but the company’s great design secret may be avoiding insult. Antonelli, of MoMA, described Apple’s design thoughtfulness as “a sign of respect,” and added, “Elegance in objects is everybody’s right, and it shouldn’t cost more than ugliness.”

“So much of our manufactured environment testifies to carelessness,” Ive said, as he and I were driven, early one evening, from the flat sprawl of Cupertino to a hilltop in central San Francisco, where he lives in a two-bedroom house with his British wife, Heather, a former arts administrator, and their ten-year-old twin boys, who pronounce “aluminum” in the English way, and have strict rules about screen time. (A few years ago, the Ives bought a nineteen-twenties mansion in Pacific Heights, with striking views, and Ann Getty and Larry Ellison as neighbors. The house is undergoing a seismic renovation. The Ives also own a beach house on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.)

We were in the fast lane of I-280, in squinting low sunshine. When I asked for examples of design carelessness, Ive cranked the conversation back to Apple. He has the discipline to avoid most indiscretions, but not always the facility to disguise the effort. “At the risk of sounding terribly sentimental, I do think one of the things that just compel us is that we have this sense that, in some way, by soins, we’re actually serving humanity,” he said. “People might think it’s a stupid belief, but it’s a goal—it’s a contribution that we can hope we can make, in some small way, to culture.”

Ive acknowledged that he and Marc Newson, who recently joined Apple as a London-based employee, could “incite ourselves to a sort of fever pitch” of design distress; they’ll complain about things “developed to a schedule, to a cost,” or “developed to be different, not better.” He and Newson are car guys, and they feel disappointed with most modern cars; each summer, they attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where vintage sports cars are exhibited and raced in the South of England. “There are some shocking cars on the road,” Ive said. “One person’s car is another person’s scenery.” To his right was a silver sedan with a jutting lower lip. Ive said, quietly, “For example.” As the disgraced car fell behind, I asked Ive to critique its design: “It is baffling, isn’t it? It’s just nothing, isn’t it? It’s just insipid.” He declined to name the model, muttering, “I don’t know, I don’t want to offend.” (Toyota Echo.)

We were in 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. We were in the back seat: Ive has reluctantly accepted the services of a driver. Ive said to him, “It’s just over a year, isn’t it, Jean?”

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.”

The view from the Bentley was of dry, yellow fields. “Isn’t this beautiful?” Ive said. “Long shadows, and the sun just tripping over the tops of the trees.” He spoke of landscapes in Marin County, north of San Francisco, that evoke the southwest of England: “Like Devon, some of it, isn’t it? Cornwall. Exmoor.”

Ive’s parents now live in that part of England, and Ive, too, once had a house there, but he grew up in Chingford, in London’s middle-class northeastern suburbs. There was a Rams-designed Braun MPZ 2 Citromatic juicer in the kitchen. “No part appeared to be either hidden or celebrated,” he later wrote. He was exposed early to tools. “I was so incredibly lucky to grow up in the context of workshops,” he told me. He acquired “a natural understanding that everything here”—highways, bridges, Toyotas—“is fabriqué, and is the consequence of multiple decisions.” His roots are working class: his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were skilled metalworkers. His father, Michael, now retired, was a secondary-school teacher of design and technology, and then a government adviser on design education. Ive’s mother was a theology teacher and, later, a therapist; his younger sister became a consultant for nonprofits in London. Marc Newson sees an economic similarity between Ive’s upbringing and his own. “Neither of us came from particularly privileged backgrounds,” he said, when we met. “A lot of what I’ve done has been an effort to try to have the things that I didn’t own when I was a child.” Newson was carrying a six-thousand-dollar Louis Vuitton backpack, of his own design. Ive, the owner of a jet, was twenty-one before he experienced air travel.

Michael Ive said that the scale of his son’s talent manifested itself in childhood. He recalled an ingenious obstacle course, in wood and cardboard, for a pet hamster, and a drawing of a scuba diver that was “so accurate in its perspective, with an astonishing sense of movement.” When Jonathan was thirteen, the family moved to Stafford, in the Midlands. At this age, Ive said, he was nicknamed Tiny, because “I was as big as I am now.” He was selected to play rugby for his county. When necessary, he has been able to access aggression. “You don’t play politely,” Ive later explained, laughing. “But you play as a team, and if you don’t play hard your team’s going to get hurt.” At school, he met Heather Pegg, his future wife, and wore his hair in a post-punk mullet.

In 1985, Ive began studying industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University). He had the profound experience of using a Mac for the first time: “I had a sense of the values of the people who made it.” He had two half-year internships at a London design firm, and his adeptness was embarrassingly evident: according to Clive Grinyer, who met him in that office, Ive was given some of the company’s most important work. Grinyer recalled visiting Ive in Newcastle: “I stayed the night in his living room, surrounded by hundreds of foam models—all white, of course. There was that little tiny difference between each one.” He called Ive “the most focussed human being I’ve come across.” This is also Ive’s description of Jobs.

Ive told me that, since childhood, he has been “consumed with work.” It’s unrewarding to question him about the movies, books, and night clubs of his youth, although at some point he acquired an abiding taste for dance music, and he has since become friends with John Digweed, the British d.j., and the members of Massive Attack. (He is also a friend of Yo-Yo Ma.) In the summer of 1987, midway through college, he married Heather, who was studying English literature at Newcastle University.

He won a national student design competition two years running, once for a white desk phone that had a handset with a long handle, like a lorgnette. He pooled two travel scholarships and, in the summer of 1989, after he had received the highest category of degree, he travelled in the United States. Robert Brunner had recently founded a design consultancy, Lunar, in San Francisco. He wanted to hire Ive moments after meeting him: Ive was “a sweet, enthusiastic guy,” and his portfolio was extraordinary, in part because “he had figured it all out.” Although people may think of industrial design “as the concept and renderings and models and all the creative stuff,” Brunner said, it’s ultimately about “delivering something.” Ive had brought a model of his desk phone, which he took apart to show how the internal components coexisted. The model’s outer casing was the exact thickness that it would be in a finished phone. “You jamais see that from a student,” Brunner said.

Ive could not move to California; he had already committed to work at the company where he had interned. A little later, he became the third partner in Tangerine, a London design consultancy co-founded by Grinyer. His projects included a long-toothed barber’s comb embedded with a level, for cutting flattops. “I think I’m just a dreadful businessperson,” Ive said, on our drive: a consultant is forever hustling for new work, and can never have the same impact on a company’s design direction as an in-house practitioner. And the work may feel purposeless: as Ive had put it, “I don’t think the world needs another microwave oven.”

In the early nineties, near the end of his time at Tangerine, Ive worked with two key clients. Ideal Standard, a British bathroom-ceramics manufacturer, commissioned a sink, a toilet, and a bath. In the Bentley, Ive drew the sink in my notebook: a half-oval atop a column that, as it tapered down, angled away from the wall. “It was a very, very simple bowl, and the rim was thick but it twisted,” he said. “It was sort of tipped open at the front.”

Ive also designed a tablet computer. In 1989, Brunner had joined Apple, to lead its design team; by 1991, the company was close to releasing its first laptop, the PowerBook 100. In a commission whose true purpose was to persuade Ive to take a job at Apple, Brunner asked Tangerine to explore other concepts in mobile computing.

Ive visited the headquarters of Ideal Standard and Apple, and recognized the contrast in his tasks. In the case of the sink, “the form wasn’t following the function,” he told me. “The form was the function. It functioned as a washbasin because of the shape.” Ive made this sound equally restricting and ennobling. “You had a real sense of your grounding in ancient history,” he said. “There was such a purity to the problem.”

At Apple, “the products were incredibly complex, and you realized that you had this dizzying liberty,” he said. “Of course, you were trying to figure out an architecture, and form, that addressed certain issues of function.” But an Apple product could take many different shapes, some of which would be “completely unhelpful in helping you understand what the object was.” Although there had long existed tools and machines whose function might puzzle a non-specialist, the integrated circuit had introduced a new level of inscrutability, where “people could look at an object and have not the first clue what it was and how it worked.” His tablet concept, the Macintosh Folio, had a stylus and an adjustable angled screen, and carried the suggestion of a drawing board.

In the spring of 1992, before a general election that the Labour Party was expected to win, after thirteen years of Conservative Party rule, Tangerine presented its bathroom at Ideal Standard’s headquarters, in Hull. Grinyer is still annoyed that the company rejected it. One complaint, he recalled, was that if the sink’s column fell it might kill a child; he thought that the column shared this attribute with other big ceramic objects.

The Tangerine partners then visited Apple in California. When they landed back in London, they were greeted by the news that the Conservatives had won. “It was fucking depressing,” Grinyer recalled. “And Jon does like nice weather.”

Ive moved to San Francisco that September. Not long afterward, he bought a yellow Saab convertible. In Silicon Valley, he responded to “a completely unaffected, completely authentic optimism.” He told Stephen Fry that he had discovered, in America, “a conspicuous lack of cynicism, and skepticism.”

The sun had set by the time we reached his house. “Thanks ever so much, Jean,” Ive said. He unlocked a wooden gate, apologizing for the darkness.

Since joining Apple, Ive has occasionally taken on outside projects. In 2001, he created a white polystyrene box to house a book by Paul Smith. In 2013, an aluminum desk that Ive and Newson designed for the Project Red auction sold for $1.7 million. And Ive once sat next to J. J. Abrams at a boozy dinner party in New York, and made what Abrams recalled as “very specific” suggestions about the design of lightsabres. Abrams told me that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” would reflect those thoughts, but he wouldn’t say how. After the release of the film’s first trailer—which featured a fiery new lightsabre, with a cross guard, and a resemblance to a burning crucifix—I asked Ive about his contribution. “It was just a conversation,” he said, then explained that, although he’d said nothing about cross guards, he had made a case for unevenness: “I thought it would be interesting if it were less precise, and just a little bit more spitty.” A redesigned weapon could be “more analog and more primitive, and I think, in that way, somehow more ominous.”

Over the years, Laurene Powell Jobs has consulted Ive about eyeglasses, flatware, and the proper height of countertops. “He’s so good on proportion and dimension,” she said. “Really, if you ever need buttons for things designed, for doors or lights, you should just stay in touch with him.” We were in the offices of the Emerson Collective, her education-oriented nonprofit, in Palo Alto. She protected an Arne Jacobsen conference table with two felt coasters: one for her coffee cup, and the other for its plastic lid.

Steve Jobs, like Ive, grew up with a father who could build things. The son became a discriminating, difficult critic of his manufactured environment. Powell Jobs, who has an open, amused manner, said, “I never thought about a sconce before I met Steve. Steve would have a definite point of view about this ceiling. And I learned about mullions.” She was looking at the window. “These mullions are quite thick, and probably overly so.”

For years, the family’s Palo Alto home was underfurnished; Jobs tore photographs of things he liked out of magazines or books, but didn’t buy them. He often complained—“You don’t want to know,” Powell Jobs said—about one or other switch ruining the experience of his Mercedes. He craved products that didn’t force adjustments of behavior, that gave what Powell Jobs called a “feeling of gratitude that someone else actually thought this through in a way that makes your life easier.” She added, “That’s what Steve was always looking for, and he didn’t find it until he worked with Jony. . . . They were really happy, they relished each other.”

Toward the end of his life, Jobs told Walter Isaacson, “If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony. Jony and I think up most of the products together and then pull others in and say, ‘Hey, what do you think about this?’ He gets the big picture as well as the most infinitesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He’s not just a designer. That’s why he works directly for me. He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me.” Richard Seymour, the British designer, described the bond between Jobs and Ive as one “between a savant-level aesthete and an incredible craft-capable practitioner.” According to Powell Jobs, “Steve wasn’t someone who sketched stuff. So he never felt that he actually designed everything. But I think that they both felt like things were made possible because of the two of them.” (Jobs and Ive had different dispositions, but perhaps shared a lack of social smoothness, and it seems fitting that one of their great joint achievements was to give digital distractions to people forced to ride in elevators with nodding acquaintances.)

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. (As Apple’s product range has narrowed to a series of flat rectangles, these transitions have become a surviving zone of pure industrial design.) On a day when Ive was so exhausted that it seemed possible he might fall asleep while talking, he became animated when describing the “primitive” design geometry that was usual before the computer era—essentially, two straight lines joined by a fragment of a circle. He then spoke of the opportunities that now exist, if the material permits, to take a more elegant path from one line to another; he talked of tangency breaks and Bézier surfaces. When I mentioned this to Powell Jobs, she cried out, “Yes! That is tel a breakthrough, I forgot about that.” For each product, Jobs and Ive would discuss corners “for hours and hours.” She 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.”

Clive Grinyer visited Cupertino in the mid-nineties, before Jobs returned. Ive “was detailing printer lids,” he said. “He was close to leaving. And, good Lord, if he had actually left, the world would be entirely different.” Recalling this time, Michael Ive said, “Part of me thought, Oh, good, we’ll see him at home again.” Jonathan Ive has little appetite for discussing this period. He worked so hard that Brunner worried about his health; his designs—notably, the second iteration of the Newton personal organizer and, later, the Twentieth Anniversary Mac—were, in Brunner’s admiring description, “somewhat expressive, but still fairly tight and fairly crisp.” At the start of 1996, Brunner left Apple for Pentagram, the international design firm. He recommended Ive as his successor, but, later, he also tried to tempt him away. “I would have loved to have him as a partner at Pentagram, and I told him that,” Brunner said. “But he was ‘I’ve got to wait this out and see where it goes.’ ”

Ive had been in charge for two and a half years when the iMac appeared, in the summer of 1998. Jobs later took much of the credit for its conception, although most other accounts, including Ive’s, suggest that the studio had come up with something quite like the iMac before his return. According to Ive, Jobs said, “Make it lickable.” (Craig Federighi, the senior vice-president of software engineering, attended a meeting where executives were shown a late iMac prototype. “Jony was showing off the case,” he recalled. “Steve was poking at the seams, and turning to Jony: ‘Maybe we could do something with the edge.’ ”) The computer’s design had the giddiness of a pardoned prisoner. At Braun, Dieter Rams had relieved consumer electronics of the need to pose as furniture. A radio could be a box. Apple’s instinct, at this moment, was to do the reverse: to domesticate a machine still largely associated with technical tasks and the workplace. (A few years earlier, in a concept design for an all-in-one computer, Ive had hidden its screen behind credenza doors, which is about as close as hardware comes to a quacking ringtone.) The computer, first sold in food-dye blue, had a handle, and curves that cheerfully acknowledged its unwieldy main component, a cathode-ray tube.

The iMac, relaunching Apple, fully launched Ive. For more than a decade, Jobs and Ive lunched and travelled together. Jobs liked to tease him for what he saw as Britain’s imperial delusions—“All hat and no cattle,” in Powell Jobs’s summary—but Ive told me that, on one visit to the U.K., he and Jobs spent a morning with Prince Charles, at Highgrove, his country house. Bob Mansfield, a former senior hardware engineer at Apple, who is now semi-retired, recently described the pique that some colleagues felt about Ive’s privileged access. As he put it, “There’s always going to be someone vying for Dad’s attention.” But Mansfield was grateful for Ive’s cool handling of a C.E.O. who was “not the easiest guy to please.” Mansfield’s view was “Jony puts up with a lot, and, as a result of him doing it, people like me don’t have to.”

Ive’s dominance wasn’t immediate. Michael Ive recalled a conversation he had with his son in 2001: “ ‘It’ll have a thousand songs, Dad.’ I said, ‘Who wants a thousand songs?’ He said, ‘You’ll see.’ ” Tony Fadell, a former Apple engineer who can take much of the credit for the iPod’s functionality, was recently quoted by Fast Company as saying, “We gave it to Jony to skin it.” That is, Ive’s contribution was to combine, as elegantly as possible, elements decided largely by engineers and others: a battery, a disk drive, an L.C.D. screen, a track wheel. Fadell went on to found Nest, which was later bought by Google; he recently took charge of Google Glass. His phrase may have been strategically irreverent—“We’ve never skinned anything,” Tim Cook told me in response—but it contained at least a partial truth. Ive gave the music player an irresistible white-and-silver form, causing a generation of designers to endure clients asking for the “iPod version” of this or that. (Richard Seymour, in London, recalled a meeting about the iPod of moisturizers.) But the industrial-design studio was not yet the company’s central workshop.

A few years later, in 2004, a visitor to the studio might have noticed a rudimentary, oversized touch-responsive screen lying on a table. “It was very crude, involving projectors,” Ive said. The studio hadn’t invented the essential technology—nor, indeed, had Apple engineers—but the designers helped guide it to market, over years. Ive was now involved “in the fundamentals of the products—how to build them efficiently, the technology, how to cool them,” as Bob Mansfield put it. Ive told me that he initially pressed for a tablet, then agreed with Jobs that a phone should come first: a tablet would have presented consumers with a new category of machine, and a new way of communicating with a machine, all at once. By the time the iPhone was launched, in 2007, Ive had become “the hub of the wheel,” Mansfield said.

Typically, Robert Brunner explained, design had been “a vertical stripe in the chain of events” in a product’s delivery; at Apple, it became “a long horizontal stripe, where design is part of every conversation.” This cleared a path for other designers. In 2007, Brunner formed his own consultancy, Ammunition, and began working with Beats, a new headphone company founded by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Brunner’s firm was integrated into the Beats process to a degree that was made possible, he said, by Apple’s example. Ive, Brunner said, had “single-handedly elevated our craft to a level that it’s never been at before.”

Ive’s studio assumed power from manufacturers as well as from engineers. Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, recalled an early iMac revision. “We announced it, and it was beautiful,” he said. “But we couldn’t figure out how to produce them.” Ive and Dan Riccio, now Apple’s senior vice-president of hardware engineering, spent eight weeks at LG Electronics, the computer’s South Korean manufacturer. “The folks at LG were doing a lot of the designing for us,” Riccio said. “Today, we do it a hundred per cent in-house.”

Apple’s designers still visit factories, but a final prototype part from Cupertino is not the start of a conversation; it’s the part. Ive gave me a tour of the area in the studio behind the glass, where, beyond the milling machines, there’s also a color lab. He said, “Years ago, you thought you’d fulfilled your responsibility, as a designer, if you could accurately define the form”—in drawings or a model. Now, Ive said, “our deliverable just commence with form.” The data that Apple now sends to a manufacturer include a tool’s tracking path, speed, and appropriate level of lubricant. Ive noted that the studio’s prototyping expertise creates the theoretical risk of beautiful dumb ideas. “There are some people who can draw something that’s fundamentally ugly, but draw it—hint at detailing—in such a way that it’s seductive.” Three-dimensional models could be equally misleading. “What we try to do is see beyond our ability to implement, beyond our ability to detail.”

One afternoon, Ive and Bart André removed the bottom panel of a MacBook laptop, revealing black and silver components arranged, with unnecessary orderliness, on a matte black circuit board. Ive looked down happily. “This is such an extraordinarily beautiful thing,” he said. André noted that, in a competitor’s computer, the board would be green. He sounded embarrassed on behalf of that other machine. On the same table was a plastic model of an existing Apple headphone—an EarPod—the size of a golf driver.

The company’s process, which is enabled by almost limitless funds, and by sometimes merciless pressure on suppliers and manufacturers, also provides a layer of commercial armor plating: an Apple object is “manufactured in a way that makes it harder to copy,” Paola Antonelli said. “That’s the genius. It’s not only the formal effect.” When, in 2007, Robert Brunner first saw a MacBook’s “unibody” housing—made, unprecedentedly, out of a milled block of aluminum—it was a “mind-blowing epiphany,” he said. Apple “had decided that this was the experience they wanted, so they went out and bought ten thousand C.N.C. milling machines.” (Apple didn’t confirm that figure, but Brunner was not being hyperbolic.) Soon after the iPhone débuted, Brunner said, Ammunition was approached by “a very large Korean company” to create a touchscreen competitor: “They wanted us to do it in six weeks.” He laughed. “We were, like, ‘You don’t realize, this was années. This was years of a lot of very good people.’ ”

One day, I joined a few Apple designers in the studio kitchen, and asked them how they had registered the world’s embrace of their products. They seemed reluctant even to acknowledge it; they made the studio sound happily isolated, like a spa or a Scandinavian prison. “It’s not like the weight of the world’s on our shoulders,” Richard Howarth, the British designer, said. “Jony set it up so that it’s a little—it’s freer than you might imagine.”

Evans Hankey, a design-team member, added, “Most of the pressure comes, I think, from us.” She said that an existing product is often set alongside a model of a potential successor, to see if “the one that we’ve been enjoying for a couple of years or so—if it just feels really old and kind of stodgy, and the new one feels just amazing.” (The designers are not on the same clock as their customers, so that moment may arrive when the stodgy item is first arriving in stores.) Once a new model feels “inevitable,” Hankey said, “we know we have a lot to do, but at least the foundation is solid.”

Hankey’s words were a reminder of the difficulty in obeying Dieter Rams’s commandment about long-lasting design. In 1973, a Sony ad announced, “This could be the tape deck you’ll leave your great-grandson.” That line, similar to the theme of Patek Philippe ads, may have been wishful, but it was not yet an absurd way to talk about consumer electronics. Today, Apple’s designers, like their competitors, make machines that are almost disposable: the screens crack; the processors become outmoded. I asked if this caused discomfort, and there was a pause. Whang, the d.j., mentioned a friend who still uses a first-generation iPhone. “It’s super banged up, but it’s absolutely fine,” he said, as if the device were a war photographer’s scuffed Leica. “So the stuff absolutely lasts.”

Earlier, Ive had said that he wouldn’t trade reach for permanence. The studio’s perpetual advancements improved “the quality of life for millions and millions and millions of people.” To decelerate—“to say, ‘There you are, it’s terminé’ ”—would make his professional life simpler. But that, Ive said, would be “really selfish of me.”

IV A Tap on the Wrist

I asked Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, if the Apple Watch seemed more purely Ive’s than previous company products. After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, “Yes.”

In 2007, the year of the iPhone launch, the Ives bought an eleven-bedroom seventeenth-century house, with a lake, in rural Somerset, in the West of England. Ive had been at Apple for fifteen years; his children were nearing school age. When Ive and his wife were photographed among the tanned and lacquered guests at San Francisco fund-raisers, they looked palely handsome and a little puzzled, as if misdirected from the set of a Jane Austen adaptation. At the time, Michael Ive hoped that the Somerset house presaged a permanent return. He told me that he had learned not to ask three questions: “When are you coming back to England?”; “What are you working on?”; “Planning any more kids?”

According to Clive Grinyer, Ive had by then considered returning to the U.K., entering a “magnificent early retirement” in which he worked on “luxury items with Marc.” As Grinyer recalls his conversations with Ive, Apple’s success, and Jobs’s worsening health, revised such plans. Apple sold six million phones in the first year. By 2012, the company was selling more than a hundred million a year. In the same period—during which Apple launched the iPad and the MacBook Air—the company’s valuation quadrupled. “The iPhone just seemed to change the entire world,” Grinyer said. “I think he is burdened by it. He’s got no choice, the poor guy. He really has to see it out, and I know it wasn’t his plan. Which is not to say he’s not enjoying it.” By the spring of 2011, the Somerset house was back on the market. (Ive’s former guesthouse—limestone flooring, double Neff oven—is available for short-term rentals.)

Ive told me that he never planned to move: he and his wife bought the house for family vacations, and sold it when it was underused. But he also connected the sale to what he called inaccurate reporting, in the London Fois, in early 2011, claiming that Apple’s board had thwarted his hope of a relocation; he did not want to be shadowed by gossip. In 2012, Ive was knighted in Buckingham Palace; by then, he and his wife had become U.S. citizens, although they did not relinquish their British passports.

Jobs was given a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2003. Isaacson reported that, in 2009, when Jobs was hospitalized for a liver transplant, and barely able to speak, he critiqued the design of an oxygen mask. Jobs came back to work, and later hosted the launch of the iPad. But in 2011 he took a leave of absence from which he never fully returned. Ive was a frequent visitor to the Jobs home, and was there, on an afternoon in October, when Jobs died.

At Jobs’s memorial, which was held on the lawn at Infinite Loop, Ive said, “Steve used to say to me—and he used to say this a lot—‘Hey, Jony, here’s a dopey idea.’ And sometimes they were: really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room, and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet, simple ones which, in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.” Ive said to me, “I couldn’t be more mindful of him. How could I not, given our personal relationship, and given that I’m still designing in the same place, at the same table, where I spent the last fifteen years with him sat next to me?”

The Apple Watch—the first Apple device with a design history older than its founder, or its designer—was conceived “close to Steve’s death,” Ive said. It’s hard to build a time line of this or any other Apple creation: the company treats the past, as well as the future, as its intellectual property. But, in 2011, there may have been a greater appetite than usual for investigations of new products. One could imagine that executives were eager to acte, in anticipation of grief, market upheaval, and skeptical press. (The Onion: “Apple Unveils Panicked Man with No Ideas.”) Cook said, “We were looking at multiple categories of products, and thinking about which ones to do.” The company began developing the iPad Mini. Before the end of the year, prototype ancestors of the iPhone 6 were lined up in the studio, with screen sizes at “every point-one of an inch, from four all the way through to well over six.” (Earlier, the studio had designed a larger iPhone based on the architecture of the iPhone 4, but, as Ive recalled, it was “clunky” and “uncompelling.”)

I had wondered if the watch project, and Ive’s software role, could be seen as a way for Apple to thank and secure Ive: handcuffs in yellow gold and rose gold. “I never thought of that, to be honest,” Cook said. “I think Jony really loves Apple—loves being here and loves the products.” He added, “The driving force was that our products would be much better.” If Jobs and Ive had a father-son dynamic, Ive and Cook seem like respectful cousins. Cook said that Ive was “extremely supportive” both before and after he publicly announced, last fall, that he was gay: “When you do something like that, there’s a group of people that throws stones.” He went on, “It’s been great having people who remind you of all the good in it.”

Ive collected watches, and he had often discussed watch design with colleagues and with Newson, who in the nineties had founded his own watch company, Ikepod. “The job of the designer is to try to imagine what the world is going to be like in five or ten years,” Newson told me. “You’re thinking, What are people going to need?” In 2011, largely thanks to advances in the miniaturization of technology, the answer seemed to be a wearable notification device paired to a phone—making it yet simpler to exchange messages of love, or tardiness. That summer, Google made an eight-pound prototype of a computer worn on the face. To Ive, then unaware of Google’s plans, “the obvious and right place” for such a thing was the wrist. When he later saw Google Glass, Ive said, it was evident to him that the face “was the wrong place.” Cook said, “We always thought that glasses were not a smart move, from a point of view that people would not really want to wear them. They were intrusive, instead of pushing technology to the background, as we’ve always believed.” He went on, “We always thought it would flop, and, you know, so far it has.” He looked at the Apple Watch on his wrist. “This isn’t obnoxious. This isn’t building a barrier between you and me.” He continued, “If I get a notification here, it will tap my wrist”—with silent vibrations. “I can casually look and see what’s going on.” We were in a conference room at One Infinite Loop, a few doors from Jobs’s old office, and I noticed that, at this moment in the history of personal technology, Cook still uses notifications in the form of a young woman appearing silently from nowhere to hold a sheet of paper in his line of sight.

In the fall of 2011, Ive said, a watch conversation became a formal watch project, albeit one that was “still tentative and very fragile.” He made the moment sound both unremarkable (“We explore a lot of things, and we’re resigned to the fact that most of them don’t continue”) and portentous (“It’s not very often that we start something that’s an entirely new platform”). When Ive, in discussing this work with me, referred to such topics as the evolution of sewn pockets, it was easy to detect his pleasure in being answerable to history. Ive may or may not have longed for Somerset, but, after two decades in design’s New World, he’d given himself a task with some Old World constraints. He invited historians and astronomers to give lectures in the studio.

At first, the designers put little on paper. After years of collaboration, “we just get it,” Ive said. “We know exactly what somebody means.” They first discussed the watch’s over-all architecture, rather than its shape. Ive’s position was that people were “O.K., or O.K. to a degree,” with carrying a phone that is identical to hundreds of millions of others, but they would not accept this in something that’s worn. The question, then, was “How do we create a huge range of products and still have a clear and singular opinion?”

If variety was a perceived necessity, it was also an opportunity. “We could make aluminum, and stainless steel, and gold, and different alloys of gold,” Ive said. (Hinting at future plans, Ive added, “We’ve not stopped.”) The product range could extend into mass-market luxury, allowing both Ive and Newson to escape the contrasting restrictions of their exalted careers. Newson became an acknowledged Apple contributor only last year, but he worked on the watch from the start; his name will appear on patents. Newson had designed airplane interiors, and the Safilo reading glasses that Ive often hooks over the collar of his T-shirts; but he had seldom made mass-market goods. He had sometimes been envious of what was possible at Apple. In 2007, in order to pursue the costly idea of milling one-off pieces of marble furniture, he had partnered with the Gagosian gallery, crossing the border into fine art. “I needed to find an outlet for my creativity,” Newson explained. “I couldn’t find a client who would do those kinds of things.” To work with Ive, at the other end of the manufacturing scale, would give him a similar license. A designer at Apple “can think about doing things in a way that you otherwise would have dismissed as being impractical or frivolous, or just not economical,” Newson said.

Selon Clive Grinyer, “Jon’s always wanted to do luxury.” By this point, Grinyer said, Ive had already fulfilled one duty of industrial design: to design a perfect stapler, for everyone, in a world of lousy staplers. (Most designers driven by that philosophy “didn’t really rule the world,” Grinyer said. “They just ruled staplers.”) A few years ago, Grinyer had considered working with Vertu, the British-based cell-phone manufacturer, whose bejewelled but technologically ordinary products sell for tens of thousands of dollars. Vertu’s survival challenged the assumption that inevitable obsolescence removes modern consumer electronics from consideration as luxury goods. Ive was “very interested” in Vertu, Grinyer recalled.

Bob Mansfield, then closely involved in the watch project, said that Ive’s role was to be “himself and Steve” combined. Yet Ive still had to make a case to Apple, and Mansfield recalled “a lot of resistance.” It wasn’t clear how the company would display such things in stores; there were also concerns about creating a divide between wealthy and less wealthy customers. (As Mansfield said, “Apple wants to build products for everybody.”) But Ive won the argument, and in 2013 the company announced the high-level appointments of Angela Ahrendts, the former C.E.O. of Burberry, and Paul Deneve, the former C.E.O. of the Yves Saint Laurent Group. Patrick Pruniaux, from étiquette Heuer, a part of the L.V.M.H. luxury conglomerate, was hired last year. Apple has announced that the cheapest watch will cost three hundred and forty-nine dollars. In parts of the world already filled with smartphones, that price may give the Apple Watch the graduation-gift appeal that, according to Brunner, Beats consciously sought with its headphone pricing. But Ive’s solid-gold models, innocently named Apple Watch Edition, are expected to cost many thousands of dollars. John Gruber, an influential Apple blogger, has written that the prices may be “shockingly high . . . from the perspective of the tech industry,” but perhaps “disruptively faible from the perspective of the traditional watch and jewelry world.” Sebastian Vivas, the director of a watch museum maintained by Audemars Piguet, the Swiss manufacturer, recently described his industry as unperturbed by Apple’s plans: “We’re not afraid; we’re just a little bit smiling.” It would be a greater threat, he told me, if men widely accepted that they could wear gemstones without a time-keeping pretext.

Ive’s decision to offer choice was a challenge to Apple’s recurring theme of design inevitability. In one of our conversations, Ive was scathing about a rival’s product, after asking me not to name it: “Their value proposition was ‘Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever color you want.’ And I believe that’s abdicating your responsibility as a designer.” Cook told me, “Jony has better taste than anyone I ever met in my life,” and Ive might not demur. Over lunch in an Apple cafeteria, Ive said that he wouldn’t think of challenging the technical decisions of “the best silicon-chip designers in the world,” who were sitting around us. But industrial designers, he said, are rarely offered the same deference—in part, because most people regularly make taste-based decisions, about shoes and lamps.

The studio adopted a modular system for the watch: a body in various materials, and a choice of interchangeable straps. Six weeks into the project, the studio built its first model.

“It’s awkward when you’re dealing with models,” Ive said. “Often you’re reacting, by definition, to newness, or difference.” The new has to be given time to annoy, or disappoint. A few years ago, Ive and his colleagues assessed each prototype size of the future iPhone 6 by carrying them around for days. “The first one we really felt good about was a 5.7,” he recalled. “And then, sleeping on it, and coming back to it, it was just ‘Ah, that’s way too big.’ And then 5.6 still seems too big.” (As Cook described that process, “Jony didn’t pull out of his butt the 4.7 and the 5.5.”)

For the watch, it was a year before Ive settled on straps that clicked into slots. Ive later tested watchbands by wearing them outside the studio with other watches. The shape of the body, meanwhile, barely changed: a rectangle with rounded corners. “When a huge part of the function is des listes”—of names, or appointments—“a circle doesn’t make any sense,” Ive said. Its final form resembles one of Newson’s watches, and the Cartier Santos, from 1904.

Ive places the new watch in a history of milestone Apple products that were made possible by novel input devices: Mac and mouse; iPod and click wheel; iPhone and multitouch. A ridged knob on the watch’s right side—the Digital Crown—took its form, and its name, from traditional watchmaking. The watch was always expected to include a new technology that had long been in development at Apple: a touchscreen that sensed how hard a finger was pressing it. (A press and a tap could then have different meanings, like a click and a double-click.) But the Digital Crown, a device for zooming that compensated for the difficulty of pinching or spreading fingers on a tiny screen, was ordered up by the studio. In a reverse of “skinning,” Ive asked Apple’s engineers to make it. In time, the crown’s role grew to include scrolling through lists. Ive was delighted with its versatility, but the sight of one of his colleagues scrolling with a rigid finger—a Doughboy poke—made me wonder if a more natural watch-winding gesture will cause large thumbs to flop, accidentally, onto the touchscreen.

One afternoon in the studio, Ive sketched the Apple Watch as seen from the side, with the crown asymmetrical on two axes: nearer the top of the watch than the bottom, and nearer the face than the back. (There is also a more flush secondary button.) As an afterthought, he quickly drew the front of an iPod: a rectangle within a rectangle, and a circle within a circle. He pointed at the watch drawing. “It’s not for us to say if things are iconic,” he said, and then described it as a “very, very iconic view.” Ive explained that, had he centered the Digital Crown, the watch would be a quite different product. “It’s just littéral. And you could say, ‘Why is that an issue?’ Well, if it’s literally referencing what’s happened in the past, the information about what it does is then wrong.” The crown rotates, which is reassuring, but it doesn’t wind the watch or adjust hands. The goal, Ive said, was to create “the strangely familiar.”

Apple was feeling its way toward a product for fitness monitoring, card-free payments, and flirtatious doodled messaging and wrist-tapping during long commutes. (The company may have used the word “intimate” one or two times too many at the product’s launch.) In 2012, Ive gathered small groups from across the company for a series of discussions at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. Jeff Williams said, “Jony had this great way of facilitating ideas, and being incredibly patient—long moments of silence.” He remembered a conversation about the amount of information one can absorb in a glance. In another, it was observed that, although some modern cars can automatically alert a service center about a technical problem, a child’s looming illness creates no such alert.

When Ive took control of Human Interface, in 2012, his immediate task was reforming the iOS. Jobs had liked digital facsimiles of analog designs; reportedly, the stitched leather in Apple’s desktop calendar quoted the interior of his Gulfstream. Ive’s view was that such effects were appropriate for the iPhone’s launch, when “we were very nervous—we were concerned how people would make a transition from touching physical buttons that moved, that made a noise . . . to glass that didn’t move.” But, he went on, “It’s terribly important that you constantly question the assumptions you’ve made.” (The bulbous iMac, a design with a similar desire to put people at ease, was replaced after three and a half years, and looked dated before then.) Ive was also itching to smooth the corners of iPhone app icons. “They drove me crazy,” he said. “All I could see were these unresolved tangency breaks.”

Had Ive previously asked to intervene? “There’s a step prior to that, which is to say, ‘I don’t think this is right, but I’m really busy doing my stuff,’ ” he replied. He’d had that conversation with Jobs. “He knew, absolutely, my views,” Ive recalled. “I’m not going to second-guess what he would have done if—had he been well.” I asked Cook if, after he became C.E.O., Ive had pressed for a software role. “We clearly spent a lot of time talking about it,” Cook said. “And I think it became clear to him that he could add a lot.” Ive’s career sometimes suggests the movements of a man who, engrossed in a furrowed, deferential conversation, somehow backs onto a throne.

His discussions with Cook were prompted by thoughts of iOS7, but it would have been as clear to him as it was to Alan Dye, a creative director at Apple, that the company’s industrial designers were at risk of losing some of their control over its products. As an iPad “becomes a piece of glass,” Dye said recently, the experience of the software becomes as important as the hardware, “or more important.” The watch would include some grand industrial-design gestures—gold hardened in a novel process of compression; a buckle secured with forty-odd magnets—but across much of Apple’s product range such opportunities were becoming rarer.

Dye, a graphic designer who had worked at Kate Spade in New York, and then in Apple’s marketing and communications department, became the head of a new Human Interface team that, before it grew too large, was embedded in the studio. Apple, in fact, already had a Human Interface team, working on the other side of the campus, without the same access to Ive and sober Dutch ringtones. In a development that reflects some part of Apple’s evolution since Jobs’s death, there were moments of tension between the original team and the new sophisticates, and then there was one merged team, under Ive.

I spoke to Dye at a table by the lawn at Infinite Loop. He had brought a sketchbook, and he opened it to a page where he’d drawn simple outlines: shuttlecock, light bulb, thundercloud, tree. He had been imagining possible elements in a vocabulary of doodled messages for the Apple Watch. “This is silly stuff,” Dye said, describing the exercise of seeding a future language.

Last spring, Jimmy Iovine, the C.E.O. of Beats, asked to meet with Robert Brunner. As Brunner recalled, “He walks in, he says, ‘I sold the company!’ ” Iovine couldn’t then name the buyer; Brunner’s best guess was Samsung. When he learned that it was Apple, which had paid more than three billion dollars, he e-mailed Ive: “Well, we need to have dinner.” Brunner recalled that Ive, in his reply, referred to the “odd symmetry” of the moment.

When I spoke to Cook, he lauded Beats’ music-streaming service and its personnel before praising its hardware. “Would Jony have designed some of the products?” he said. “Obviously, you can look at them and say no.” He went on, “But you’re not buying it for what it is—you’re buying it for what it can be.” Brunner is proud of the Beats brand, but it took him time to adjust to a design rhythm set as if for a sneaker company: “Originally, I hated it—‘Let’s do a version in the L.A. Lakers’ colors!’ ” He laughed. “ ‘Great. Purple and yellow. Fantastic.’ ” When I asked Cook about such novelties, he laughed: “I want Beats to be true to who they are. I don’t want to wave the wand over them in a day and say, ‘You are now Apple.’ Down the road, we’ll see what happens.”

Brunner and Ive had dinner in San Francisco a few days before Apple’s September announcement; they barely talked about the Beats deal. “I was telling my wife I’ll be home by ten o’clock,” Brunner said. “We were still drinking past twelve-thirty. I think he was blowing off a little steam.” (Stephen Fry said of Ive, “He loves a great hotel and a great wine.”) Ive was worn out, and preoccupied by the launch, and, Brunner said, by the thought of “doing something like this without Steve.” But they gossiped a little about designers, and Brunner was reminded of his former employee’s extreme thoroughness when Ive showed him drawings of “a perfectly radiused marble corner” for a future bathroom in Pacific Heights.

The Apple event ended oddly, with charmless stage banter between Cook and Bono, who spoke coyly of a vast, opaque commercial transaction, involving free music, between their two organizations. Like Mickey Mouse, seen that day on one of the watch faces, U2 has perhaps become more a symbol of entertainment than a source of it. I imagined Ive sighing, “Must I do everything myself?”

As people stood to leave, Harper Alexander handed Ive an Apple Watch: it was the larger of two sizes, in rose gold, with a band of white rubbery plastic. Ive tied it to his wrist loosely, and it suited him. A few minutes later, he walked outside to a large white shed that had been built as a temporary showroom. There seemed to be an exaggerated heaviness—a miming of responsibility—in Ive’s rolling gait. Referring to three years of work on the watch, he said, “It took a long time and it was very hard.” But the ovations had pleased him. The room was full of reporters and fashion-industry guests—including Lily Cole, the model, wearing a gold Rolex Oyster that her friend Olivier Zahm, the studiedly louche editor of the magazine Purple, Instagrammed before the event was over. (“Sorry Apple,” someone commented.)

Inside the shed, I tried on a watch, and its stainless-steel chain bracelet, guided by magnets, fell into place with the click of someone stacking nickels. That click, and one or two other immaculate couplings, had been the only sounds, apart from music, heard on a trailer-length “reveal” video that preceded the ten-minute film. The watch was months away from market—it will become available in April—and its display showed only a loop of dummy text and images.

I was walking around with Richard Howarth and Julian Hönig; they stared, slightly dazed, at people handling objects that only they had handled for years. When a product demonstrator gave me his pitch, they interrupted with design footnotes. “The materials in this thing are insensé,” Howarth said. People, he noted, were saying that the watch’s face was made of “sapphire glass”: “It’s not glass, it’s sapphire crystal—completely different structure. And then the stainless steel is super-hardened. And the zirconia ceramic on the back is co-finished with sapphire as well.” He added, “This would cost so much money if a different company was making it—Rolex or something. It would be a hundred grand or something.”

“We sell it for just fifty thousand,” Hönig said, joking.

The next day, I visited Ive in his studio. The table previously covered with a flat cloth was now uncovered: it was a glass-topped Apple Watch display cabinet, accessible to staff from below, via a descending, motorized flap, like the ramp at the rear of a cargo plane. Ive has begun to work with Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice-president of retail, on a redesign—as yet unannounced—of the Apple Stores. These new spaces will surely become a more natural setting for vitrines filled with gold (and perhaps less welcoming, at least in some corners, to tourists and truants). Apple had not, overnight, become an élite-oriented company—and it would sell seventy-five million iPhones in the final quarter of 2014, many of them in China—but I wondered how rational, and pure of purpose, one can make the design of a V.I.P. area. Ive later told me that he had overheard someone saying, “I’m not going to buy a watch if I can’t stand on carpet.”

That afternoon, he was eating salmon sashimi, and complaining about seasonal allergies. “I’m going to limp toward the weekend, and take Monday off, I think,” he said. He described the previous day as “momentous.” His iPhone 6 softly chimed a text alert every minute or two. To those of Ive’s generation, the new phones were perhaps large and slippery enough to trigger nostalgia for the small, tough phones of a decade ago. I asked Ive about the slightly protruding camera lens that prevents the iPhone 6 from resting comfortably on its back. Ive referred to that decision—without which the phone would be slightly thicker—as “a really very pragmatic optimization.” One had to guess at the drama behind the phrase. “And, yeah . . .” he said.

As we spoke, I removed links from an Apple Watch bracelet, and then put them back, and it seemed possible that the watch’s combination of distractions might, for some, be overwhelming. “I know,” Ive said. Like an iPhone, an Apple Watch is only “simple and pure”—to quote Ive’s film—until it’s a threat to sleep, solitude, or the happiness of someone near you in a cinema. Michael Ive, remembering his son’s hamster obstacle course, wondered if young people were now “too screen-focussed.” On a sidewalk outside the studio, I later saw an employee looking at his Apple Watch while balancing an iPhone 6 on his forearm.

The Apple Watch is designed to remain dark until a wearer raises his or her arm. In the prototypes worn around the Cupertino campus at the end of last year, this feature was still glitchy. For Marc Newson, it took three attempts—an escalation of acting styles, from naturalism to melodrama—before his screen came to life. Under normal circumstances, the screen will then show one of nine watch faces, each customizable. One will show the time alongside a brightly lit flower, butterfly, or jellyfish; these will be in motion, against a black background. This imagery had dominated the launch, and Ive now explained his enthusiasm for it. He picked up his iPhone 6 and pressed the home button. “The whole of the display comes on,” he said. “That, to me, feels very, very old.” (The iPhone 6 reached stores two weeks later.) He went on to explain that an Apple Watch uses a new display technology whose blacks are blacker than those in an iPhone’s L.E.D. afficher. This makes it easier to mask the point where, beneath a glass surface, a display ends and its frame begins. An Apple Watch jellyfish swims in deep space, and becomes, Ive said, as much an attribute of the watch as an image. On a current iPhone screen, a jellyfish would be pinned against dark gray, and framed in black, and, Ive said, have “much less magic.”

Alan Dye later described to me the “pivotal moment” when he and Ive decided “to avoid the edge of the screen as much as possible.” This was part of an overarching ambition to blur boundaries between software and hardware. (It’s no coincidence, Dye noted, that the “rounded squareness” of the watch’s custom typeface mirrors the watch’s body.) The studio stopped short of banishing screen edges altogether, Dye said, “when we discovered we loved looking at photos on the watch, and you can’t not show the edge of a photo.” He laughed. “Don’t get me wrong, we tried! I could list a number of terrible ideas.” They attempted to blur edges, and squeeze images into circles. There was “a lot of vignetting”—the darkening of a photograph’s corners. “In the end, it was maybe putting ourselves first,” he said.

After I left Ive that day, he drove to a wine bar in San Francisco, for a celebratory Apple Watch buffet dinner. The evening, he recalled, was “very gentle, reflective, probably because we were so tired.” The Apple Watch software will award virtual medals, embossed and enamelled, marking fitness achievements; Ive described their appearance as “slightly nostalgic,” with echoes of a mid-century Olympic Games. “When you’re judicious with what’s literal, it can be powerful,” Ive said. At the party, what had been literal became manifest: the guests all left with a metal iteration of a virtual medal, in a black cloth pouch.

In San Francisco, in an L-shaped living room with a large fireplace surrounded by dark wood, Heather Ive turned off some lights to improve the night view. “You can see the wash of light from the lighthouse at Alcatraz,” she said. Her husband added, “The new house is way over there. You’re almost on top of the water.” The work in Pacific Heights, which has included driving piles forty feet into the ground, is scheduled to be finished this year.

His architects there are Foster + Partners, which is led by Norman Foster. Since 2009, the same firm—“Norman’s boys,” as Ive has sometimes put it—has worked on Apple’s new campus. Inevitably, Ive is a co-designer of his house; according to Cook, he is playing the same role with the new headquarters. Apple loves its architects, Cook said, but “you can’t outsource your brain.” The building should express “the way we look at the world.”

In December, a day after a severe coastal storm had sent seabirds darting inland, across Silicon Valley, I met Ive at the site of the future campus, a five-minute drive from Infinite Loop. It was still raining. There was no view of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and no sign of the drone that sometimes buzzes overhead, recording video that is scrutinized online. The site has been cleared of all but one preëxisting office building. Ce is where thirty Foster architects work; they are sometimes joined by London-based colleagues, and by Ive and his team. In the lobby, there was a wall-size rendering of the campus, into whose central landscaped circle—amphitheatre, fountain, apricot trees—one could drop the Great Pyramid. When the design studio is relocated, it will occupy a top-floor space of thirty thousand square feet, with Industrial Design and Human Interface together, sharing a view of what Apple refers to as the “savanna” between the main building and the fitness center.

“I was very keen to have Norman do the project,” Ive said. We walked through a series of rooms filled with prototypes and renderings. Ive has few doubts about his usefulness on architectural projects: in the design disciplines, he said, he finds it “a curious thing that we tend to compartmentalize, based on physical scale.” (He later told me that he’d taught Foster’s architects something about the geometry of corners. A recurring campus detail will be floors that turn up a little where they intersect with walls.)

We stood by a scale model. Ive said that, in an earlier iteration, the campus was “trilobal.” I imagined a three-petalled flower, or the symbol for radioactivity. The single loop seemed to reflect the imperial part of the studio’s spirit of imperial solicitousness. Under Cook, Apple has experimented with a softer, less neurotic image, and has, among other things, strived to improve its performance as a proxy employer of overseas factory workers. It’s determined to make the case, as Cook put it, that the company’s leaders shouldn’t be thought of as “greedy bastards looking for more money.” A private walled garden, costing an estimated five billion dollars, may not catch this mood.

Later that day, I asked Ive about an Apple design that shares the new campus’s formal simplicity: the circular “hockey puck” mouse that was included with the first iMacs. Many found it hard to control, and it is widely considered a design failure. Ive didn’t accept that description. He referred to different schools of thought about arms, wrists, and mice. “Everything we make I could describe as being partially wrong, because it’s not perfect,” he said, and he described the wave of public complaint that accompanies every release. He went on, “We get to do it again. That’s one of the things Steve and I used to talk about: ‘Isn’t this fantastic? Everything we aren’t happy about, with this, we can try and fix.’ ”

The loop can’t be fixed, as Ive acknowledged, with a laugh. But, as far as possible, Ive has turned it into an industrial-design product. From the point of view of his discipline, an office building is a handmade prototype that fails to go into production. And Ive sees no intrinsic virtue in making things by hand: “You can have careless, unqualified craftspeople.” So, if a vast unvarying loop could be thought of as a Jobs hangover, it’s also an opportunity for mass production. When Ive enthuses about the building, it’s on these grounds. “You have a kit of elements and you just make lots of them,” he said, happily. Ive’s studio largely designed the building’s “void slabs”: forty-four hundred precast-concrete units that will have a floor on one side, a ceiling on the other, and a cooling system between them. They are being manufactured in an Apple-built factory in Woodland, California. “We’re assembling rather than building,” Ive said.

Ive only then made the case that a ring was “a remarkably pragmatic way of connecting the right groups.” A taller building, he said, would make such connections more complex. The counterargument is fairly strong: the two full-circumference corridors are each about a mile long.

Before we went outside, Ive showed me the work he’d done on staircases, and on the signage for employee security-card readers; we examined brightly colored polycarbonate panels that will help people establish where, beneath the loop, they have parked. Pinned to a wall were alternate versions of a visitor reception center, separate from the loop. Seen from above, both were modified rectangles. One, marked “Pill,” had half-circles at either end. The other ended in a more familiar Apple way, and was labelled “iPhone.” “We should be done, but we’re still redoing and redoing,” Ive said. He had recently introduced the iPhone option, partly for fear that a visitor approaching the Pill by its rounded ends might mistake it for an echo of the main building. He had also insisted—“a big fight”—on simplifying the control panels of the Mitsubishi elevators.

We toured the site in a Jeep, in the rain. “Gosh, that’s come on so much,” Ive said. The building’s ring was a trench, lined with concrete, deep enough for two levels of underground parking. When we got out, Ive declined to wear the construction hat provided; we walked across mud and peered over the edge. His noises of appreciation—“Oh!”—sounded almost regretful.

He was a few days from starting a three-week vacation, the longest of his career. The past year had been “the most difficult” he’d experienced since joining Apple, he said later that day, explaining that the weariness I’d sometimes seen wasn’t typical. Since our previous meeting, he’d had pneumonia. “I just burnt myself into not being very well,” he said. He had discouraged the thought that Newson’s appointment portended his own eventual departure, although when I spoke to Powell Jobs she wondered if “there might be a way where there’s a slightly different structure that’s a little more sustainable and sustaining.” Comparing the careers of her husband and Ive, she noted that “very few people ever get to do such things,” but added, “I do think there’s a toll.”

We drove around the building’s perimeter. “This is something that Steve cared about passionately,” Ive said. “There is a bittersweetness here, because this is obviously about the future, but every time I come here it makes me think of the past as well—and just the sadness. I just wish he could have seen it.” We went to have lunch with Newson, in a twenty-thousand-square-foot room built as a miniature test run of the future campus cafeteria. ♦

Maximus

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