National Public Radio can always be guaranteed to provide interesting listening on the most diverse of subjects. This afternoon, in "All Things Considered", there was a piece about the "Behind-the-Scenes Partnership at Apple" between CEO Steve Jobs and head designer, Englishman Jonathan Ive. Apparently, ever since Steve Jobs discovered Ive working in a basement amidst a welter of creative inventions and designs in 1996, when Jobs had returned to Apple and was re-evaluating everyone and everything, the two have formed a very felicitous partnership.
What interested me was the parallel - in truth, hardly surprising - between the concepts espoused by Apple for design and those which an artist follows, ideally. It was apparently regarded as somewhat revolutionary in that industry that design was considered right from the beginning when a new product was being worked on. As Ive said, everything defers to the display, whether in the I-Phone, I-Pod or I-Pad - "getting the design out of the way". The user experience is the only important consideration, everything else is subservient.
In art, the design, or composition, is one of the important sub-structures of the piece. It should ideally be so discreet and integral to the work that it should not be noticed. The art should just look and feel "right". And the skill and experience to achieve this important underpinning of the work comes only with practice, thought and application. Indeed, one of the descriptions of Jonathan Ive at Apple in the NPR piece was "relentless", always working to get the thing "just right". That could, and should, be a description for everyone of us artists as we try to get our work "just right". Often, quite a challenge!