updated 03:05 pm EST, Wed February 20, 2013
Full interview for BBC show 'Blue Peter' now available
Sir Jonathan Ive, the head of design at Apple and the recent winner of an honor from UK children's television institution Blue Peter gave the program a rare look inside his work area, along with a brief interview that points out how carefully the designer thinks about every aspect of a design question. Also included in the video, which has now made its way to YouTube, is a rare look at an aluminum molding machine in Ive's lab, and some product designs from viewers.
As part of the biographical information on Ive presented to the primary school-aged viewers of Blue Peter, it was revealed in the piece (seen below) that Ive went to the same high school as soccer star David Beckham. The interviewer for the long-running program (which started in 1958) began the interview by asking Ive about some of his memories as a child growing up in north London watching the show himself.
The program has always combined entertainment with educational reports that are supported by DIY activities, and Ive recalled learning how to cut the top of a detergent container to make a paintbrush holder that was resistant to tipping over. In the challenge for the current program, schoolkids from all over Britain were invited to submit their product designs for a combination backpack, lunchbox and pencil case for Ive to judge.
The best three designs were pre-selected and presented to Ive, who generally had nice things to say about all three entries (which showed off a great deal of genuine imagination). When asked how he would approach the challenge, Ive answered the question by saying that even the description of the item plays a role in how people think about the product: "If we're thinking of lunchbox, we'd be really careful about not having the word 'box' already give you bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. You think of a box being a square, and like a cube. And so we're quite careful with the words we use, because those can determine the path that you go down."
The level of consideration of something as simple as a description of the object reveals some of the ways in which Ive thinks about a product and its expectations with consumers, and shows off an example of the "think different" approach that has led to so much commercial success in its various devices over the years. Ive had particular praise for a drawing of a pencil case that attaches to a backpack by a zipper, but rolls out flat when in use; a lunchbox holder with a mesh screen "to let the crumbs out," and a backpack that featured a security code to prevent others from accessing the lunchbox, along with a wristwatch directional navigator to help students locate the bag.
Following the chat, the presenter gave Ive a gold Blue Peter badge, which the designer said "really meant a lot" to him, and was told by the children whose designs he reviewed and the presenter that he had been a inspiration to everyone who enjoyed his work. Ive returned the favor by using one of the CNC fabrication machines in his lab to create a replica plaque-sized Blue Peter badge made from a solid block of aluminum.