The Cambridge Union the oldest debate group in the world and the main Cambridge University, in England. Last year, the institution established the Stephen Hawking Fellowship, a recognition of notable figures who show excellence in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The legendary physicist was, of course, the first recipient of the award when he gave one of his last speeches before he died. Now, the second figure to receive recognition was none other than our favorite designer (or not), Jony Ive.
In his speech of thanks, Ive touched on several subjects, from his relationship with design to Steve Jobs. In one of the coolest points of his speech, he commented on his first experience with a Mac, in 1988, four years before joining Apple.
I loved using it and it became a very powerful tool that helped me to design and create. Furthermore, I realized that what you do represents who you are. it is a testament to their values and concerns and, using the Mac, I felt a clear and direct connection with the people who created the Macintosh. For the first time, I remember being touched by the care and humanity behind the indispensable functionality.
Ive also talked about the concept of Multi-Touch, the form of interaction with multiple fingers on the screen that revolutionized the industry on the first iPhone. According to Ive, technology was not only disruptive in itself, it was one of the keys to the creation of another revolutionary product, the App Store.
We realize that we can make applications that are purposeful, attractive and intuitive. So, as this potential for a wide range of apps became clear, the idea of the App Store also surfaced. But it is important to remember that these initial ideas were only attempts () they were not a response to a technological opportunity.
The designer also commented how, even after almost 30 years at Apple, he remains “totally amazed, completely enchanted by the creative process”, its forms and manifestations, adding that “he loves unpredictability and surprise”.
Following the speech, Ive shared some teachings on how to “make the creative process less scary” and how to balance curiosity and problem solving.
Curiosity alone, even energizing and motivating, and even though it is absolutely fundamental for generating ideas, generates only a lot of big lists and maybe some ideas, but it ends up. The determination needed to find solutions to problems that arise between hesitant thoughts and something substantial seems to be in direct conflict with most creative behaviors. () You see, being immoderate and resolute, you have to solve difficult problems. But solving problems requires new ideas. So we need to come up with ideas and be curious again. This is not a change that occurs to me once or twice during a project of many years; I feel it happening to me once or twice a day and these transitions between two very different ways of seeing and thinking are fantastically demanding.
Ive ended his speech with words in his own, but that of his greatest and most important master Steve Jobs. The Apple co-founder shared them with the designer about ten years ago and he thought it appropriate to conclude the speech by bringing up Steve's thinking:
There are many ways to be. People express their admiration in different ways. One of the ways that I believe they can express this esteem for the rest of humanity by creating something wonderful and putting it in the world. And you never know these people, you never shake hands with them. You never listen to their stories or tell yours, but in the act of doing something with care and love, something is broadcast there. This is a way of expressing our deepest admiration to our species.
To those interested, more quotes from Ive's speech can be read in this compilation of Forbes. Incredible, isn't it?