It is possible that this post will be divisive in some way. The majority of my peers in engineering shun Apple computers either because of the price, the “weak” computer specs, or the inability to run certain softwares. Regardless, the aesthetic of Apple and the careful consideration put into its products is a big reason why their customers keep coming back. The reality is, their products just work, and they look pretty. This all started with Steve Jobs’ vision.
Steve Jobs attributed Apple’s aesthetic to the style of homes and architecture around him; namely, the Eichler style home with wood-paneled walls and floor-to-ceiling glass windows made popular in California in the 1950s-1970s by Joseph Eichler. This style is said to be the quintessential example of mid-century modern and California-modern architecture and have influenced design across many industries. It’s possible to investigate Eichler style homes as its own aesthetic since this design style was a major player in bringing postmodernism to architecture, but it was this essence of design that inspired Steve Jobs: simplicity and reproducibility.In fact, Apple’s first advertisement headline in 1977 read, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” (This quote is often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.) In engineering design, simplicity is often more valued than complexity as the more simpler solution is most of the time the most optimal solution. We are also reminded of this concept with the common KISS mentality (keep it simple, stupid).
In the early years of Apple, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “We will make them bright and pure and honest about being high-tech, rather than a heavy industrial look of black, black, black, black, like Sony. The way we’re running the company, the product design, the advertising, it all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.” This is evident when investigating or using most of Apple’s products: clean lines, smooth finishes, curvatures, and white in color. The goal was to create high-tech products and present them as attractive and beautiful, ultimately generating this connection and desirability between tech and humans.
This entire mantra of simplicity was also incorporated into Apple’s software and user interfaces. The goal was to make everything easy to use and obvious in order to further expand on this human-technology connection. Most of the ways we interact with technology nowadays was inspired by the one and only Steve Jobs: the swipe, flick, pinch, double tap, for example. Take a second to think about any and every smartphone on the market. They all borrow something (or a lot of things) from the iPhone, and there is a reason for that. Jobs found a way to market technology to a major consumer base by designing Apple’s devices simply and making them obvious to use. It is safe to say that without Steve Jobs, we wouldn’t interact with smartphones and computers the way we do today.
Steve Jobs and Apple was one of the first companies in Silicon Valley to incorporate industrial design. Jobs wanted the products to be “friendly” inside and out. If you have ever opened up an iPhone or a MacBook, these traits are evident. The boards, speakers, battery, hard drives, etc. are all so neatly packed into the frame and anchored down in a systematic way. This was also largely due to Jobs’ and Jony Ive’s (former Chief Design Officer at Apple) concept of reducing the device down to its essentials and allowing the device to embody the simplicity inside and out. Of course, this may not be appealing to the “I’m building my own computer” type of consumer, however, for the majority of the consumers, this is appealing. Most consumers don’t feel a need to open the device up and just want to plug the device in and have it work. But, Jobs didn’t care if the consumer was to open up the device or not and still persistently ensured the design to be appealing on the inside as well as outside.Apple’s products incorporate this perfect synergy between design for manufacturability, design for assembly, and industrial design. Almost all of Apple’s products over the years has had some type of longterm effect on how future technology was to be developed and interacted with. Since Jobs’ passing, it can be argued that the company has lost sight of some of these early on mantras and mindsets set forth by Jobs, but nonetheless, their flagship products still represent these attitudes to a high degree. It is hard to recognize this simplicity and obviousness that these products are built from because the way we interact with technology nowadays is so innate and intrinsic. After all, how else would you get to the next photo in your album or drag a folder to another directory than just simply swiping to the next photo, or dragging and dropping?  Isaacson, Walter. “How Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Fueled A Design Revolution.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 1 Sept. 2012, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/how-steve-jobs-love-of-simplicity-fueled-a-design-revolution-23868877/.  “Eichler Home Remodeling Ideas Photo Gallery.” Real Estate Website, www.eichlerforsale.com/eichler-remodeling-ideas.php.  “What Is an Eichler Home? Here’s Everything You Need to Know.” Nonagon Style, 5 July 2018, nonagon.style/what-is-an-eichler-home/.  Potuck, Michael, and Michael. “IFixit Shares Fun IPhone 11 and 11 Pro Internal and x-Ray Wallpapers.” 9to5Mac, 23 Sept. 2019, 9to5mac.com/2019/09/23/iphone-11-x-ray-internal-wallpaper/.  Wolf, Jason. “‘Inside the New Macbook’ HD Wallpaper: Newest Macbook pro, Macbook pro, Macbook pro Retina.” Pinterest, www.pinterest.es/pin/497295983824116993/.  “Top 50 Flagship Stores in the World.” Insider Trends, 7 July 2017, www.insider-trends.com/top-50-flagship-stores-in-the-world/.  Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.  Lillington, Karlin. “Subscriber Only: IPhone at 10 – Design Genius That Brought Us under Steve Jobs’s Spell.” The Irish Times, 12 Jan. 2017, www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/iphone-at-10-design-genius-that-brought-us-under-steve-jobs-s-spell-1.2933374?mode=sample&auth-failed=1&pw-origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.irishtimes.com%2Fbusiness%2Ftechnology%2Fiphone-at-10-design-genius-that-brought-us-under-steve-jobs-s-spell-1.2933374.