Well it’s not very often that you feel the loss of somebody that you felt was truly great but Steve Jobs for me was that person. I loved his passion, I loved his vision and I loved his optimism for a better future. Steve jobs’ work has touched many peoples’ lives in so many ways. i-mac, i-phone, i-pad. In the last couple of hours he has received many tributes. Marks of respect from every side of the globe. From the millions of Apple consumers to people such as President Obama. He has been praised for his technological achievements, his entrepreneurial achievements and now I want to pay tribute to Steve Jobs for everything he has done for my profession, design.
Growing up as a designer, everything you are ever taught at school or University about design in some way has been mastered by Steve Jobs. With Apple as his canvas, he has spent the last 30 years revolutionising our field. Want to know about graphics and packaging? Simply check out the beautiful boxes his products come in and the wonderful use of fonts. Want to know about product detailing? Check out any of the Apple products of today. All of them, beautifully balanced, beautifully finished and beautifully weighted. Want to know about concepts? Simply look at what Apple did to the music industry, they basically re-invented it! With i-tunes and the i-pod, they put the consumer back at the heart of the music industry and changed the way we all listen to music forever. Want to know about powerful branding? Apple is the strongest brand in the world, period. I don’t care what any survey says about IBM or Mercedes. Apple is light years ahead of everybody in building a powerful consistent brand. They don’t have to discount their products; they don’t have to really advertise their products. Everybody knows instinctively what Apple is, what they’re about and why they want to pay more to have one. Apple could make a car, a washing machine or even a plane and people would want one.
And finally, want to know how to make money out of design? Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world. And it is for this that I want to eternally thank Steve Jobs. For giving design real teeth at the board level and making great products as a priority. See great products and great companies are not borne out of dogma or a desire to mercilessly make money; they are borne out of one’s passion for a better future. Making money is simply the consequence when you learn how to do it really well. Most of the time what a creative will produce is the result of passion, a moment of inspiration. And traditionally it is the first thing to be killed in the boardroom. Well Apple changed all of that, be it the first graphical user interface, be it the transparent cover on the first i-mac or even the first proper touch-screen phone. Most of those ideas would have been killed off early in most boardrooms but Steve Jobs and Apple were different. He said yes when most people say no. He stuck to HIS beliefs in making perfect products when many before him would have said no for an easier life. It remains incredibly difficult to innovate and innovate well. Most cowardly hide behind the shelter of what has gone before, but Steve Jobs was a leader. And most importantly he proved that great design is profitable. Steve Jobs showed the true value of great design and how it is just as applicable to the design of a button as it is to the way you actually design the business itself.
Apple really did begin to resemble their owner. And no he was not perfect. He was prickly at times and a tad aloof but ultimately he was a genius. The company he created, although massive, does have a heartbeat. Even Apple’s website tribute to the great man is beautifully designed. Steve Jobs should be thanked for instilling that ability into his team and for showing the world the power of great design. We talk a lot about ‘design with soul’ here at the loft and sometimes its a hard concept to define. But I can think of no better embodiment of that message than Steve Jobs.
Rest in peace Steve Jobs and thank you…