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Jony Ive explains Apple's interest in wearables, design philosophy at Met Gala 2016

In an interview published on Tuesday, Apple CDO Jony Ive offered his take on the recent Apple-sponsored Met Gala, the intersection of fashion and design, Apple Watch, wearables and more.


Apple CDO Jony Ive (left) and CEO Tim Cook with Laurene Powell Jobs at the 2016 Met Gala. | Source: Vogue


The interview, part of a Met Gala profile put together by Business of Fashion, gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at Monday's event, which was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York. Ive introduced this year's exhibit, "Manus x Machina: Fashion in the Age of Technology," alongside Costume Institute curator Andrew Bolton and event co-chair, museum trustee and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

Adding to an already massive advertising push, Apple sponsored the event in an apparent bid to legitimize Apple Watch as a true fashion accessory. Company CEO Tim Cook and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, were also on hand at yesterday's extravaganza.

As for Apple Watch, Ive toed the company line, saying the product is merely a continuation of Apple's quest to design increasingly personal devices.

"Regardless of whether we declare an interest in fashion or not, we are making products that are more and more personal...products that you wear and you wear every day," Ive said. Although Apple has not announced an outright jump into fashion, the company is obviously on that path with Apple Watch, as evidenced by exclusive partnerships with Hermes and Coach. Wearables is a new segment for Apple, but the category jibes with the company's overarching brand philosophy.

"We've not done that before and we've got a lot to learn," Ive said. "Just talking to Andrew [Bolton] is hugely informative. I think we have always had a very clear and a very singular approach to how we design products that are more familiar to people, more established in terms of product categories. I think it's very hard to have that same clarity and singularity when you're not absolutely confident in your subject matter."

The design chief made a point to address conjecture regarding Watch's place in the Apple ecosystem. Some pundits have described wearables as a passing fad, one that Apple is looking to cash in on with Watch.

"Of course, this is a new category for us, one that we think is such a natural one because we think in a very authentic way," he said. "It's not us being opportunistic in the way our competitors are. It's not us thinking, 'Well, this is a growing category.' That couldn't be further from the truth."

Ive said he personally loves first-generation devices, adding, "You know we can't talk about future products, but if you look at what we typically do is that we don't make something and stop." He declined to offer specifics, but suggested big changes are in store for the platform.

"It's quite interesting that if you look back at the first generation of the iPod or the Phone —what happens in the next two, three, four years is dramatic. You'd be very surprised about some of the things you would absolutely assume that the first Phone did and it didn't have," Ive said.

As for the show itself, Ive found "a calm and serenity and gentleness to the overall exhibition" that served a perfect stage for the pieces on display.

"In our work, we've always tried to design in a way where you're not aware of the problems that we've had to solve. That's the job of the designer: to solve problems and explore, but not really drag you through what all the problems were. I was irritated to have to leave [the exhibit]."