"It's all about removing the unnecessary," Jonathan Ive has said of the ethos that informs his landmark product designs for Apple Computer. Ive has stripped the complexity out of technology and moved Apple's products—and with them, much of the high-tech industry—toward what he calls the "utterly serene." His translucent Power Mac G4 Cube, which resembled postmodern sculpture more than office equipment, proved that computer design could even aspire to high art. But nothing better fulfills Ive's ambition to create elegant, intuitive machinery than his revolutionary design for the iPod MP3 player. Coveted as much as a fashion statement as for its utility, this ode to minimalism has redefined the way consumers experience technology, to say nothing of music. Dell and Samsung have vainly followed with their own iPod knockoffs, proving conclusively that Ive's influence runs deep.
A version of this article appeared in the June 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.