Is Jonathon Ive aProduct Designer or an Industrial Designer?

Okay in the UK the definition of Industrial Designer and Product Designer are opposite of that of Americans. Therefore when it says Jonathan Ive is the senior vice president of industrial design at Apple does that means he is a product designer.

I am asking because I want to have a job role like his and I am deciding between which degree to take. What degree does Jonathan Ive have?

Which of these would I pick to be like him:

BA Industrial Design - focuses on aesthetics and user experiece

BSc Product Design - looks at aesthetics and mechanics and electronics.


I don’t think that’s a universal definition for either, generally the two are used interchangeably.

The two programs you’ve shown seem to take more of what in the US is referred to as either the art school or tech school approach. Both are largely the same, but one is focusing more on the nuts and bolts of how products work, while the other seems to be focusing more on the artistic and formal qualities.

Asking which degree you should get to be like Jonathan Ives is like asking which football to buy to be like David Beckham.

Typically an Industrial Design program (the US does not use the term product design as much when it comes to colleges) you learn both, although most US programs have less learning about the electronics in depth. You learn what a circuit board is and that it needs to go inside, but that’s as deep as the knowledge goes. You’re expected to pull apart things on your own to learn what makes them tick. In the real world, you’ll have an electrical engineer and mechanical engineer to help you with those details, unless you want to be a one stop shop.

I would ask yourself, do you get more enjoyment out of the artistic sides of design (sketching, rendering, scuplting) or the technical side (how things work, how mechanisms work, etc) and pick the program based on that. Based on looking at the course requirements, the majority of the classes are shared between the two majors.

It would also be best to visit the school and ask them directly to explain the differences.

Thankyou for your reply, I am not sure what I like most, I like a bit of both I think. I like the aestetics of a product but I do have an interest in the general workings of a product. Although I have never learnt about the technicalities of a product in detail before so I have no idea if I would like to study it or not.
I don’t do maths or physics however so I would have to take the BA.
Is the BA in industrial design still worth doing?
Also on coroflot, when design jobs are listed as industrial design, does that mean the UK product design or industrial design?

There are plenty of debates on product design vs industrial design - everyone has a slightly different interpretation of each. For the Loughborough courses, they are very similar - one is more engineering focused, the other is more branding / aesthetics. Why don’t you check out the end-of-year student catalogue and see what types of projects each course graduate with, and decide which one is of most interest to you.

Pretty good analogy!

The simple answer to your question is a BA (Hons) in Design for Industry from Northumbria. There’s little point in getting concerned about titles and what your chosen course is called - these change every few years. Traditionally industrial design was an arts based course. Jonathan Ive has mentioned in an interview (to whom I can’t remember) that he thought he was technically inept, especially when it came to using computers. His success has been in driving apple forward, not technically, but through user experience, aesthetics and branding. Along the way he will obviously have acquired an enormous amount of technical knowledge.

My advice would be to follow the route that you are going to enjoy, read widely and put the most effort into developing the areas that you find most difficult.

I always make the connection of design education and Apple/Jony Ive to this:

If you were an industrial design student, and showed up with the iPhone design (pre-iPhone) as a student project in your portfolio, would anyone have considered a rounded rectangle with some fillets, good design work? The answer would probably have been no. They’d go “So the only tool you knew how to use was the extrude and fillet and all you could sketch was rectangles eh?”. That’s from the physical product standpoint at least, but draws the connection to why Apples success isn’t purely an Industrial Design one. It’s their triumphs of engineering, breakthrough technology, materials and processes, and user interface. And that isn’t something you can get under your belt with a single degree.

My point: Don’t worry about what Jony Ive did. Worry about what you are passionate about.

Also don’t forget that it wasn’t just one product, but a portfolio of interconnected products supporting the functional brand benefits and central story that “technology can be simple”… so the uber minimal industrial design makes sense beyond “I like it”… don’t forget Ive wasn’t always designing Dieter-esque product, the Newton (I believe one of his first products at Apple?) the original iMac and Mac Book, product like this were anything but Bahaus. It is important to have range. The mission of those original “i” products was not simplicity, but to be intentionally different and fun, and to make Apple the complete counterpoint to other products on the market.

Interestingly enough, everyone moved toward the original “i” look very rapidly, and Apple rapidly moved away from it making it out dated as fast as they brought it into fashion. But I digress. You might like this conversation:

Part of this lecture might be relevant: