With the Product Red charity auction headlined by Apple designer Jonathan Ive and Marc Newson fast approaching, the two men recently sat down with Vanity Fair to discuss their involvement. As it turns out, Ive and Newson have been friends for decades, which they assumed would lead to a fairly straightforward and easy collaboration process. That turned out not to be the case. The two spent over a year and a half pulling together items to be auctioned off in New York City next month — each with a design tweak that came directly from Ive or Newson.
In the end, they had time to create just two products from the ground up. One is an office desk produced by Neal Feay Studio. The second is a much-publicized Leica Digital Rangefinder designed in tandem by the pair. "I found it a very odd and unusual thing to put this amount of love and energy into one thing, where you are only going to make one," Ive told Vanity Fair. "But isn't it beautiful?"
"You discover that very few people have the level of perfection we do."
Unsurprisingly, a large part of the interview involves Ive and Newson talking design philosophy. It's typical, product-first chatter, but an air of self importance may give critics some new fodder. "You discover that very few people have the level of perfection we do," said Newson. "It is actually very sick. It is neurotic." Ive shared a similar sentiment. "All of us in this room see the same things, the same objects, but Marc and I see what’s behind them," he said. But when it came to actually building the custom Product Red items, Ive and Newson needed some help. The Leica alone took nine months of design time, which saw 947 different prototype parts and 561 potential models before a final design was reached. At various stages, Apple lent some 55 engineers to the process, which the company says resulted in 2,149 total hours of labor. Ive hopes that all of that work will bring in up to $6 million for the one-off camera, a sizable amount that would fund the fight against AIDS.
"Jony makes some of his greatest decisions while having a drink."
Bono, who publicly leads the Product Red effort, has nothing but high praise for both designers. The U2 frontman also told Vanity Fair that his band's special edition iPod almost never happened. Bono had originally pitched the idea to Steve Jobs, though at one point the deal appeared destined to derail. Ive was sent directly to Bono's home — red and black iPod prototype in tow — and the two managed to settle the final details. Reflecting on the story, Bono told Vanity Fair, "Jony makes some of his greatest decisions while having a drink."