Apple Park is a top secret place. Until recently, some of the only glimpses inside the tech giant’s huge ring-shaped campus in Silicon Valley were from the (likely banned) iPhone. snapshots employees posted on Instagram. Designed by Foster + Partners, the four-story ‘spaceship’ houses 12,000 employees who work hard to research, develop and design the company’s line of technology products: iPhone, MacBook Pro and AirPods, among others. . This operation was previously led by Design Director Jony Ive, who left in 2019 after a 27-year tenure. Since then, Apple has revealed little about its design team: People, products, and processes have all been shrouded in mystery.
A new interview with Wallpaper, however, seeks to raise the curtains and delve into Apple’s approach to product development in the post-Jony Ive era. But as Bloomberg Notes, the story is full of clichés and buzzwords, as well as superficial nods to the virtues of research, iteration and cross-pollination. Then comes the nail in the coffin: “If the access granted by Apple was intended to distinguish the designers of the company, it in fact did the opposite. Perhaps the most interesting revelation in the play is that the studio, once a source of invaluable corporate cachet for Apple, now looks a little boring. Ouch.
It’s hard to disagree. Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, heads of Apple’s design team, don’t reveal much beyond the memory of Steve Jobs communicating surface nuggets of wisdom such as “Design is not just a plating “and” it’s not just how things look, it’s how things work. Even when discussing their approach to designing newer products like the Apple Watch, the two are playing it safe , drawing on the language used by CEO Tim Cook and descriptors coined from press releases (ie “the most personal product we’ve ever made”) that leaves most of our unanswered questions. Positive Evidence: “We care a lot about making great products, but we’ve worked just as hard to form a great team and culture,” says Dye. “A lot has come from the beginning. Steve defined Apple by its design. And when asked for a look at AirPods, they simply shared that Apple had done extensive ergonomic studies on the ears to make sure the resulting designs offered a good fit.
While this episode might be seen as Apple keeping a tight grip on its narrative, it also points to a new generation of leaders who may not have the courage to excite us with cutting comments about our current relationship with technology – and create the products that define the generation to back them up. (Like Bloomberg Also notes that all of the products discussed in the interview, although revolutionary technological achievements, were designed while Ive been at Apple, indicating that the company is still defined by a luminary that is long gone.) We have to ask ourselves : why is Apple feeling so stuffy lately? What happened to I do not know what long infused into the company’s hardware? We think Tony Fadell would like to have a word.