Apple’s new book, Designed By Apple In California, is as much an Apple product as the gadgets it documents. It took eight years to develop, is bound in white linen, and printed on “specially milled, custom-dyed paper with gilded matte silver edges.” You really can’t help but hear the description in Jony Ive’s voice.
The book, conceived of and published by Apple, is a glossy $300 (that’s for the plus size; it’s $200 for a smaller version) tribute to the last 20 years of the company’s industrial design legacy, and to its progenitor, Steve Jobs. Photographer Andrew Zuckerman shot the 450 pages of products in Apple’s signature stark style—white background, high saturation—even turning the messy act of prototyping into minimalist glamour shots.
Designed By Apple is filled with images of the candy-colored Macbook, iPhone, and Apple Watch. More interestingly, it also documents how those things get made. Zuckerman turned his camera on the tools and prototypes, creating what reads like a visual masterclass in what it takes to bring a well-designed gadget to life. “The design studio really is a workshop. We design three-dimensional objects, and we make lots and lots of models and prototypes,” Ive says in a video. “Designing and making really should be inseparable. For every finished product you see, tools had to be designed, processes had to be created and experimented with.”
But in the book’s foreword, Ive characterizes the book as more than a documentation of process and object:
While this is a design book, it is not about the design team, the creative process or product development. It is an objective representation of our work that, ironically, describes who we are. It describes how we work, our values, our preoccupations and our goals. We have always hoped to be defined by what we do rather than by what we say. We strive, with varying degrees of success, to define objects that appear effortless. Objects that appear so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative.
Yes, it’s a grandiose-sounding thing to say. Designed By Apple really is, after all, a book filled with pretty pictures of pretty objects. But Ive’s got a point. Apple’s design has always spoken for itself—now there’s a book to remind you of that.
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