Apple's Ive on how Cupertino looks at product names

In a recent appearance on the BBC children's show "Blue Peter," Apple's design guru talked about how sensitive Apple is toward words, as well as products.

Limitless enthusiasm. Even on a children's show. Tom Davenport/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

How many famous designers would ever bother to turn up on a children's TV show?

Especially when they're supposed to be working at Apple night and day.

Yet here is footage, posted by journalist and recording engineer Tom Davenport, of a recent appearance by Apple's Jony Ive on the BBC's "Blue Peter."

This is not an ordinary TV show. It's very much an institution in British television.

It's also the show where kids first get a sense of what can be made out of apparently useless objects -- like an old empty washing-up liquid bottle (American equivalent: dishwashing liquid bottle).

Ive was asked to comment on a challenge in which kids had designed an all-in-one lunchbox, pencil case, and school bag.

He clearly grew up watching and loving this show and was enamored with the kids' designs.

But not before the "Blue Peter" presenter asked him how he would go about designing such a thing.

Some might imagine that this was like asking Picasso how he would design a piece of pavement. Or asking Kelly Clarkson what she thought of "Three Blind Mice."

Yet Ive leaped immediately that he wouldn't want to call it a "box."

He said:

If we're thinking of lunchbox, we'd be really careful about not having the word "box," you know, already give you a bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. Because you think of a box being square, and like a cube. And so we're quite careful with the words we use, because those can sort of determine the path that you go down.

I am sure that this will make some nod interestedly and others wonder just what connotations the word "pad" conjured when Ive and his fellow designers set about creating Apple's famed tablet.

But whatever your persuasion, that simple and spontaneous comment surely shows just a little of Apple's famed attention to detail.

Love Apple a lot or love it a lot less, there are certain characteristics of its approach to creating products that have captured quite a few imaginations over the years.

The company often chooses to think about things very much its own way, through its own visual and verbal vocabulary.

Sometimes, though, it cannot help but hear a word -- for example, "clock" -- and a thing that already exists enters its head .

 

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