Apple's Jonathan Ive gets knighthood in honours list

Jonathan Ive Mr Ive has been behind many of the iconic gadgets of the last 15 years

Jonathan Ive, Apple's head of design, has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.

Mr Ive, who can now style himself Sir Jonathan, has been made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).

Raised in Chingford, Mr Ive began working for Apple in 1992 and since then has been the brains behind many of its products.

He described the honour as "absolutely thrilling" and said he was "both humbled and sincerely grateful".

Mr Ive added: "I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making.

"I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."

Team work

Mr Ive has been lauded for the tight fit between form and function seen in Apple gadgets such as the iPod and iPhone.

Born in February 1967, Mr Ive inherited a love of making things from his father, a silversmith, and reportedly spent much of his youth taking things apart to see how they worked.

From the age of 14, he said, he knew he was interested in drawing and making "stuff" and this led him to Newcastle Polytechnic - now Northumbria University - where he studied industrial design.

On graduation he started work as a commercial designer and then, with three friends, founded a design agency called Tangerine.

One of the clients for the agency was Apple which was so impressed with the work he did on a prototype notebook that it offered him a full-time job.

Mr Ive was apparently frustrated during his early years at Apple as the company was then suffering a decline. Everything changed, however, in 1996 when Apple bought Next and Steve Jobs returned to the company he helped found.

Start Quote

He has a very determined sense of getting things right”

End Quote Deyan Sudjic Design Museum

"What's made him so outstandingly successful is the relationship he's had with Steve Jobs and Apple," said Deyan Sudjic, director of The Design Museum.

"He's been working there for 19 years and has built up the kind of relationship that's very rare."

Mr Jobs described Mr Ive as his "spiritual partner" in the recent biography of the Apple co-founder written by Walter Isaacson. However, it also said that Mr Ive was "hurt" by Mr Jobs taking credit for innovations that came from the design team.

Mr Ive's eye for design combined effectively with Mr Jobs' legendary attention to detail and the products that have emerged from the company since the late 1990s have turned Apple into one of the biggest and most influential technology companies on the planet.

Mr Sudjic said Mr Ive's talent was to help people stop worrying about technology and just get on with using it.

There have been some mis-steps along the way. Most recently, Apple's iPhone 4 was criticised because many people said signal strength dropped when their hand touched the phone's metal case. This was thought to be because the antenna for the handset formed part of the device's metal shell.

In contrast to many other design celebrities, said Mr Sudjic, Mr Ive had not cashed in on his fame but had let what he and his team created speak for itself.

Mr Sudjic said: "He has a very determined sense of getting things right."

The knighthood is the second time Mr Ive has been recognised in the honours list. In 2005 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

His KBE was announced on the diplomatic and overseas list.

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