Steve Jobs as a Designer

Steve Jobs was an extremely successful entrepreneur, inventor, and the co-founder of Apple and NeXT. While he is extremely well-known for his work on the Macintosh systems as an engineer and salesman, and his collaboration with Steve Wozniak, he can also be seen within another light; as a designer.

Jobs’ whole design process revolved around a sleek and modern design. This likely came as a result of his travels though India, where he became engrossed in Buddhism, and became a practitioner in Zen Buddhism, which focused upon minimalism, and letting go. Jobs worked with several designers within the Apple team to create the Macintosh One, which drew heavy inspiration from modern appliances, such as the Cusinart. (Isaacson, paragraph 14). Jobs insisted upon smooth designs, certain bevel and chamfer dimensions, and worked tirelessly to design the friendliest, most human computer.

Jobs dabbled in everything that came standard with Apple products, from the calculator design to the typeface. With later computers, specifically the iMac G3, Jobs helped fabricators to design an entirely new transparent yet colorful plastic, which was placed on the back of machines and allowed for individuals to express themselves.

His greatest accomplishment was arguably the design of the iMac G4, which combined the monitor as well as the hardware for the actual computer into one sleek design, which drew inspiration from Luxo Jr., the Pixar lamp. The design of the iMac G4 made it so that one’s workspace was free of the clutter that additional wires created, making its design superior to its competitor, Windows. One can see this design prevailing throughout the history of Apple desktops, and its influences on the modern iMac.

Ultimately, without Jobs’ influence, Apple wouldn’t have the iconic design traditions it has now, likely would have gone bankrupt, and certainly wouldn’t be the overwhelming success it is today.

This image has been created during “DensityDesign Integrated Course Final Synthesis Studio” at Polytechnic University of Milan, organized by DensityDesign Research Lab in 2016. Image is released under CC-BY-SA licence. Attribution goes to “Giulia Piccoli Trapletti, DensityDesign Research Lab”., CC BY-SA 4.0,

“Imac G4: All about Steve” IMac G4 | All about Steve, Jan. 2002,

Magazine, Smithsonian. “How Steve Jobs’ Love of Simplicity Fueled a Design Revolution.”, Smithsonian Institution, 1 Sept. 2012,

Srinivasan, Rajesh. “How Did Steve Jobs Save Apple Using the Law of Elimination?” LinkedIn, LinkedIn, 22 Apr. 2022,

Steeber, Michael. “20 Years of Imac: A Story of Relentless Design Iteration.” 9to5Mac, 9to5Mac, 2 May 2018,

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Shrey Naresh Solanki
    March 4, 2023 1:24 am

    As a fan of Apple, I’m astounded by Steve Jobs’ accomplishments as a designer as well as an entrepreneur and innovator. He established a new standard for the industry by creating the friendliest and most human-like computers thanks to his obsession with detail and user experience. Without Jobs’ contribution to design, Apple might not have achieved its current level of astronomical success. His legacy continues to motivate designers and Apple devotees equally.

    • Riley Dressel
      March 4, 2023 12:27 pm

      Absolutely! His work is still incredibly influential upon Apple’s design, and he was an incredibly integral piece of the brand’s success.

  • Jose Salgado
    March 1, 2023 3:55 pm

    I never gave much thought to the design of Macintosh computers. They’ve always had this kind of bright, futuristic look to them. They have definitely evolved from a thicker, clunky model to a more slim and sleek look. What would you say your favourite style is? Do any invoke nostalgia?

    • Riley Dressel
      March 4, 2023 12:32 pm

      Hi Jose!

      The evolution of the Macintosh computer is something that is incredibly interesting, and you can really see the repercussions of earlier design decisions today. My favorite style is actually the Macintosh 2, with it’s clunky solid design, it evokes a sense of nostalgia that I hold dear, as similar computer designs were popularized by films such as War Games and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While the current design is sleek and minimalistic, the design of the Macintosh 2 was unique in that it appeared rugged; something that Apple designs today steer away from.


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