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Apple design chief Jonathan Ive awarded knighthood

Jonathan Ive, Apple's senior vice president of industrial design, has been named a Knight Commander of the British Empire in the U.K.'s 2012 New Year Honours list, an honor he has described as "absolutely thrilling."

The BBC reported on Friday that Ive can now go by "Sir Jonathan." The knighthood, which is for "services to design and enterprise," is a step up from his previous title of Commander of the British Empire, which was awarded in 2005.

Ive responded that he was "both humbled and sincerely grateful" by the commendation.

"I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making," he said. "I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."

Ive, who grew up in Chingford, a town northeast of London, credits his silversmith father with inspiring him as a designer.

"He's a fantastic craftsman," Ive said, as noted in Jobs' biography. "His Christmas gift to me would be one day of his time in his college workshop, during the Christmas break when no one else was there, helping me make whatever I dreamed up."

Ive went on to study Industrial Design at Newcastle Polytechnic, now called Northumbria University. It was there that he first realized the potential of designing on the Mac.

"I discovered the Mac and felt I had a connection with the people who were making this product," he said. "I suddenly understood what a company was, or was supposed to be."

After graduating, Ive worked as a designer in the U.K., eventually founding a design agency. Apple hired the firm to do design work and was so impressed by Ive's work that it offered him a full-time position.

During his 19 years at Apple, Ive grew to become a "spiritual partner" of co-founder Steve Jobs, according to Jobs' biography. Jobs confided that he had left Ive with "more operational power" than anyone else at the company.

"There's no one who can tell him what to do," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson. "That's the way I set it up.'"

While Jobs and Ive were close friends, Ive did admit to Isaacson that he felt Jobs had stolen the credit for some of his ideas.

"[Jobs] will go through a process of looking at my ideas and say, 'That's no good. That's not very good. I like that one,'" Ive told Isaacson in an interview. "And later I will be sitting in the audience and he will be talking about it as if it was his idea. I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when he takes credit for one of my designs."

Ive has received numerous industry awards for his work as a designer, including the title of smartest designer in tech by Forbes Magazine, Designer of the Year by the Design Museum London and Royal Designer for Industry by The Royal Society of Arts. Earlier this year, Ive and his designs were featured in an exhibit at a German art museum.

Interestingly enough, Jobs himself was considered for an honorary knighthood by the Queen of the United Kingdom, but the proposal was blocked by a former Prime Minister because Jobs declined to speak at a Labour Party conference.