Jony Ive talks about the joy & pain of working for Apple; shares seven songs

The Life in Seven Songs podcast has been named by Apple as a top new show, and the latest episode sees the company’s former design chief Jony Ive talk about his background, and the joy and pain of working for the company …

The podcast series launched last month, with the The San Francisco Standard asking noted figures the question: “What songs tell your life story?”

Guests include architect Norman Foster (whose company designed many Apple Stores); London Breed, the 45th mayor of San Francisco; D’Wayne Wiggins, the record producer who discovered Beyoncé; and Jony Ive.

The format of the show involves interviewees being asked to name seven songs which have been important at different points in their lives, and to tell the story of those periods. Ive’s choices are:

  1. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da – The Police
  2. Main Theme / Carter Takes a Train–  Roy Budd
  3. Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone –The Temptations
  4. Don’t You (Forget About Me) – Simple Minds
  5. Define Dancing – Thomas Newman
  6. 40 – U2*
  7. This Is The Day – Ivy

*Now we know who to blame …

Much of the content of the interview will be familiar to anyone who’s read or listened to any Ive interview, starting with his early work as a silversmith, where he discovered the joy of making something from scratch.

He said that working at Apple before the return of co-founder Steve Jobs was a painful time.

It was a time, you know, Apple was dying. And this amazing company that I’d moved halfway around the world to want to become part of was drifting towards irrelevance. And this was one of the most relevant, innovative, remarkable companies, I thought, on the planet.

And so it was a very, very difficult time. And I think that manifested itself in so many ways. But it was, you know, I certainly felt that I missed London and, missed friends and family and missed the culture I understood, and I’d gone from a very small design company that I’d actually started and I was part of a big corporation that I just couldn’t understand.

But this changed when Steve returned.

I was shocked that he had the patience and the curiosity and interest to come and meet. And to spend as much time as he did, just looking through the work that was going on in the studio, which was very different from the work that we were, you know, developing and ultimately shipping. It’s not really happened before, it’s not happened since.

And it’s a feeling, I think, that we both had, which was just this, um, remarkable click. It’s that feeling of meeting somebody who saw the world in such similar ways.

But what was remarkable to me was, where I could think and process myself and develop a perspective and an opinion and develop ideas, but could barely describe them, here was somebody who could almost without thought, and made it appear effortless, to describe really complex feelings and perceptions of ideas and opportunities. He understood context and relevance, and obviously he’d already achieved so much.

He chose 40 as his final song, as he said it represents that feeling that, however good the past may have been, there are moments when it’s time to move on.

The words are from Psalm 40. And I thought, that’s such a beautiful, simple declaration: I will sing a new song.

I think it’s a lovely, I mean, it’s a very natural thing, isn’t it, that there are chapters. Leaving Apple was, in some senses, you know, a terribly hard thing to do, because I did, and I do love that company so, so hugely. And there’s just times when, you know, it’s time for the next chapter. 

9to5Mac collage of images from Life in Seven Songs and Jason Dent on Unsplash

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