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Vice president of industrial design, Apple Computer
AGE 31
ADDRESS One Infinite Loop, Cupertino, Calif.
BIO If you ask Ive why he chose a career in industrial design, he will say simply that he likes drawing and making things, and has ever since he was a boy growing up in London. He will add politely that he considers himself lucky that he can do what he's most passionate about and still make a living. And he will expound emphatically upon his philosophy that design is about innovation, resolve and personal faith, and that focus groups are a symptom of a corporation's "creative bankruptcy." But what Ive won't do is take any personal credit. Even when pressed, he is unable (or unwilling) to lay claim to a single idea or suggestion that made it into the most important product design of his career so far, Apple's iMac computer. Or recall any earlier notable accomplishments: "Anything that I did before the iMac seems irrelevant," he says. After graduating in 1989 from Newcastle Polytechnic, an art school in Northeast England, Ive formed an industrial design consultancy called Tangerine. He spent the next three years designing everything from TVs to hair combs to bathroom fixtures. While he found such diversity "seductive," he says he never felt truly effective as a consultant; he needed a focus. He joined Apple in 1992. His design team, a tiny group handpicked by him, spent its first few years working on "studies" and then several incarnations of the Apple Newton--and watching the company stray off course. In late 1997, he says, everything changed: Steve Jobs returned and put everybody to work on his idea for a compact home computer. One of the highlights of Ive's year: consulting with candymakers about how to reproduce the iMac's translucent casing.
1998 POWER PLAY The iMac's strong sales since it started shipping in August (1,837 sold in that month alone) seem to have put Apple on the comeback trail, and certainly put Ive on the map as a designer who knows his stuff. "It's nice to do something that has some consequence, that changes the way people look at things," he says.
PLACE YOUR BETS Ive expects other manufacturers to try and imitate the iMac's bold look, but figures they'll miss the point. Designing a computer that looks different is easy, he says--the hard part is designing features that make sense and bring comfort to the user. "The iMac," he says, "turns the competitive agenda of this industry on its head."