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Sir Jonathan Ive at the Goodwood festival of speed in Chichester this year.


Jonathan Ive and the Future of Apple

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. 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 such 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."