An evening with Mister iPhone

By any measure, he is among the most important figures in technology of the last decade, a major influence on the way we use and interact with computers and mobile phones, a British designer who ranks with the Conrans and the Dysons. But have you ever heard Jonathan Ive, the Apple designer behind the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone, talk about his work?

I hadn’t – so when a friend invited me to hear him speak at the Royal College of Art’s Innovation Night I leaped at the chance.

Now one of the reasons you don’t hear much from the Apple designer is that he is, by his own admission, a hesitant and unpolished speaker. He told the audience at the Royal College that he’s learned that preparing presentations takes him away from perfecting a product, so he’d rather let others do the talking.

But the format last night was a fireside chat between Ive and the Rector of the Royal College Sir Christopher Frayling in front of an audience of students and what seemed like the whole of the London design community…

And what emerged were some fascinating insights into the culture of Apple and the craft of industrial design.

RTFA. Industrial designers are a breed unto themselves.

The few I’ve known and spent comfortable time with – were capable of disagreeing with each other at least as much as any other artist. Though, I’ll admit they argued about functional reality without getting instantly personal.

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