The worktables are higher than a desk but a little lower than the Apple Store tables they inspired. This height—arrived at after much reflection—accommodates seated study and standing visits. (Risking self-parody, Ive later referred to the “simplicity and modesty” of the arrangement.) Samsung Electronics sells vacuum cleaners as well as phones, and employs a thousand designers. Apple’s intentions can be revealed in one room. Each table serves a single product, or product part, or product concept; some of these objects are scheduled for manufacture; others might come to market in three or five years, or never. “A table can get crowded with a lot of different ideas, maybe problem-solving for one particular feature,” Hönig, the former Lamborghini designer, later told me. Then, one day, all the clutter is gone. He laughed: “It’s just the winner, basically. What we collectively decided is the best.” The designers spend much of their time handling models and materials, sometimes alongside visiting Apple engineers. Jobs used to come by almost every day. Had I somehow intruded an hour earlier, I would have seen an exhibition of the likely future. Now all but a few tables were covered in sheets of gray silk, and I knew only that that future would be no taller than an electric kettle.
The cloth covering the table nearest the door was curiously flat. “This is actually complicated,” Ive said, feeling through the material. “This will make sense later. I’m not messing with you at all, I promise.”
A couple of nights ago, I mocked the Apple blogs for how quickly they all linked to this piece. I’m still skeptical that everyone that linked it up, actually, you know, read it. But I did read it. And—it’s as good as advertised. Maybe better. It’s lengthy—17,000 words—but it goes down smooth, especially if you care at all about Apple, Technology, Design, or just about reading really great pieces of writing, e.g.:
I asked Jeff Williams, the senior vice-president, if the Apple Watch seemed more purely Ive’s than previous company products. After a silence of twenty-five seconds, during which Apple made fifty thousand dollars in profit, he said, “Yes.”
For the Apple crowd, this piece goes straight into the canon. I imagine that the Ian Parker will be buzzing about it for a month at least.