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“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter” – 15 Amazing Quotes from Sir Jony Ive

Famous words from the design wizard

by: - Last updated on: June 28th, 2019

He might have been best known as the man behind the design of products like the iPod and iPhone, but Sir Jony Ive was also known for the clarity of his vision. A champion of the concept of simplicity, Ive was not fond of the spotlight, preferring to stay out of it and let his products do the talking. But when he himself spoke, people remembered what he said, because he had the gift of being able to express complex issues in simple terms. His words more often than not were simple and profound. Like so many of his products. Which is why he is one of the most quoted designers around.

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So, as the design wizard bids goodbye to Apple, we take a look at fifteen of his most memorable quotes. Fifteen quotes that reflect the man, his work and his values.


Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.

I think that a beautiful product that does not work very well is ugly.

It’s sad and frustrating that we are surrounded by products that seem to testify to a complete lack of care. That’s an interesting thing about an object. One object speaks volumes about the company that produced it and its values and priorities

We have always thought about design as being so much more than just the way something looks. It’s the whole thing: the way something works on so many different levels. Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience.

Making the solution seem so completely inevitable and obvious, so uncontrived and natural – it’s so hard!

I think there is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity; in clarity, in efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than just the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity.

Really great design is hard. Good is the enemy of great. Competent design is not too much of a stretch. But if you are trying to do something new, you have challenges on so many axes.

Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful, people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.

If you are truly innovating, you don’t have a prototype you can refer to.

What I love about the creative process, and this may sound naive, but it is this idea that one day there is no idea, and no solution, but the next day there is an idea. I find that incredibly exciting and conceptually actually remarkable.

It’s a very strange thing for a designer to say, but one of the things that really irritates me in products is when I’m aware of designers wagging their tails in my face.

There is beauty when something works and it works intuitively.

To create something that’s genuinely new, you have to start again, and I think with great intent, you disconnect from the past.

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The memory of how we work will endure beyond the products of our work.

And finally, his response to an on-stage Steve Jobs who called him when he was unveiling the first iPhone in 2007 and asked “Jony, do you have anything to say about the first phone call?

It is not too shabby, is it?

We will end with Jobs’ response:

It’s not too shabby. You take care, Jony.

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