Design at the top table

Two stories this week show how design is fast becoming embedded into the thinking of multinational companies.


The first is the news that Jonathan Ive’s role at Apple is to be extended, with the British-born design chief now taking responsibility for all the brand’s software design as well as his job leading product design.

The extension of Ive’s role comes as part of a management overhaul at Apple, which also sees Scott Forstall, senior vice-president of iOS software, shown the door.

Some commentators have suggested with Ive overseeing the software interface, Apple could drop the skeuomorphic design touches (ie the fake stitched leather detailing on iCal and the faux woodgrain bookcase on iPhone magazine apps) beloved of Forstall but hated by critics, in favour of a new, cleaner, simpler aesthetic.

Jonathan Ive and the Apple design team at the DAD Awards
Jonathan Ive and the Apple design team at the D&AD Awards

And others have noted that Ive has now moved into a position of influence at Apple only ever matched by Steve Jobs (who died just over a year ago).

Everyone, of course, knows how important design is to Apple, and knows the story of how they built the most valuable company in the world off the back of Ive’s designs and Jobs’s vision.

And other companies, casting envious glances at Apple’s dominance, are now moving to follow the same model, and place design at the heart of their business.

Earlier this week mobile company O2 announced plans to created a ‘design centre of excellence’ in the company in order to develop ‘world-class’ digital products.

O2 has announced plans to create a 'design centre of excellence'
O2 has announced plans to create a ‘design centre of excellence’

Simon Groves, head of brand strategy and customer experience at O2, told Marketing Week that the company had consciously looked to other models such as Apple, Sky and Virgin Atlantic, to work out how a ‘design-led, world-class organisation’ should look.

Our piece by Tom Banks looks at how design-led companies like Virgin Atlantic and Sky are set up and operate.

Could these be an example for all companies in the future?

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