Apple’s design team had earlier revealed some unseen images from Cupertino’s iconic Apple Park headquarters. The team is presently working from the premises and has reportedly come to appreciate its “quiet and calming” environment.
In an interaction with Wallpaper*, VP of industrial design Evans Hankey and VP of human interface design Alan Dye says they have developed an appreciation for the Apple Park premises only after a few years of working at the completed building.
Apple’s design team moved to Apple Park in Cupertino three years ago to work with the entire team from one location. Although the purpose has been accomplished, Hankey and Dye say the process took more work than initially anticipated. Hankey says:
“We knew very much that this was a massive opportunity, but we also knew that it also had to be more than just adjacencies,” said Hankey. “We got to where we were as a team because of our cultures and our processes. It was a challenge, not an automatic win. It really took a lot of time to try new things out and be a little bit outside our comfort zones.”
In the same vein, Dye adds, “We care about making great products, but we’ve worked equally hard at making a great team and culture. A lot of that came from the beginning. Steve defined Apple by its design. We always remember him saying that design is not just a veneer. It’s not just how things look; it’s about how things work. After three years, we couldn’t believe more in the vision of having one central Design Team across all Apple products.”
In 2017, when Sir Jonathan Paul “Jony” Ive was the Chief Design Officer (CDO) for Apple, he explained the ambiance at the Apple Park office and told Wallpaper*:
“We can have industrial designers sat next to a font designer, sat next to a sound designer, who is sat next to a motion graphics expert, who is sat next to a color designer, who is sat next to somebody who is developing objects in soft materials.”
The latest design team interview also touches upon the design process for new products such as AirPods.
“Dye and Hankey frequently use the word ‘humility’, especially when Apple is entering new market spaces. While new category killers such as Apple Watch and AirPods might appear effortless and fully formed from the outset, the work behind the scenes was staggering (…). When AirPods’ development began a decade or so ago, human factors researcher Kristi Bauerly found herself researching the ‘crazily complex’ human ear.
“We molded and scanned ears, worked with nearby academics, focusing on outer ears for the earbud design and inner ears for the acoustics,” she says. Thousands of ears were scanned, and only by bringing them all together did the company find the ‘design space’ to work within. ‘I think we’ve assembled one of the largest ear libraries anywhere,’ Hankey says. ‘The database is where the design starts,’ Bauerly continues, ‘and then we iterate and reiterate.”
The interview also packs a fair share of interesting photos from around the Apple Park premises. You can check out some of them here:
It is correct that most Apple products on store shelves today were not designed by the team in the past three years. However, the interview provides invaluable insight for the Apple geek and is a must-read in its entirety. The interview touches upon noteworthy aspects of Apple’s design identity as a brand, including its typography, the photography revolution, Apple Watch development, and the all-important role of Apple Park in the whole process.