What makes Apple design so good?

While Apple is known for their great technology, a big part of their reputation lies on their superb design. Since one of their first product releases, the Mac computer in 1984, they have been on the forefront of stylish personal computing that’s sleek, minimalist, and easy to use. Through the years, Apple has been able to significantly change the world’s relationship with tech through great design, and here at Medley, we're continually inspired by Apple's mission to make elegant, highly functional pieces

As the headline of Apple’s first marketing brochure proclaimed in 1977, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Steve Jobs grew up in a neighborhood full of Eichler homes, which were inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and featured  floor-to-ceiling glass walls, open floor plans, exposed post-and-beam construction, concrete slab floors and lots of sliding glass doors. This early introduction to design is what led to Jobs fascination as he started Apple.

As early as 1983, Jobs proposed, “What we’re going to do is make the products high-tech, and we’re going to package them cleanly so that you know they’re high-tech. We will fit them in a small package, and then we can make them beautiful and white.” And that’s exactly what he did, and Apple continues to do.

One of the ways you know Apple’s design is so excellent is that if the logo was removed, you would still recognize someone using one of their devices. Part of this is because even from the beginning, Steve Jobs reminded his team that “design is how it works, not how it looks.” Functionality is always put first before appearance, which is why their devices are so intuitive and easy to use. Throughout their lifespan, they’ve been able to set themselves apart due to their ability and willingness to make decisions on behalf of their users. “It takes a lot of hard work,” Jobs said, “to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions.”

This emphasis is also why design is addressed from the very beginning. Apple doesn’t come up with an idea for a product, then later on design it. The design process occurs simultaneously with the product development. So many intuitive aspects of Apple products are because they thought about how people would want to use it, then designed it around that. It is said that their team of designers focus on building something that they would want to use themselves, ensuring its beauty and genius.

Another key aspect of Apple’s design is the simplicity. More than being flashy or eye-catching, Apple designed its products to look clean, simple and straightforward. Everything from the shape of the phone, to the button design, to the color options to even the fonts used, uses clean and simple lines. Plus, the interface when you turn on the device echoes that minimalism, and creates a strong cohesive experience for the user. This simplicity is even echoed in the Apple store interior, which uses minimalist counters, shelves, and displays.

When you take a look at all the Apple products on the market, you realize they haven’t actually invented many new things. They take existing products, like mp3 players and tablets, and perfect them. They consistently revolutionize items and turn them from a “nice to have” to “I can’t live without it.” We, too, work to perfect every item we make, which is why we put so much heart into quality craftsmanship, and sourcing the best sustainable furniture materials

Just like the products it graces its presence on, the Apple logo design is also strong. Designed in 1977 by Rob Janoff, the apple with a bite out of it was made to be simple yet distinctive, so it would be remembered. The sleek simplicity of the apple, which started in a rainbow stripe design and is now all silver or white, is a big part of why Apple is so pervasive.

Much of their reputation for great design comes from Jony Ive, the current Chief of Design at Apple. He began working with Apple in the earlier 1990s, where he redesigned the Mac for the modern era, creating the iconic Bondi blue iMac. He then went on to influence every Apple product since, and designed the iPod, the iPhone, the complete Mac lineup, and the iPad. He even had significant input into their chic retail stores, and their massive headquarters in Cupertino.

As Ive said, “Our goals are very simple — to design and make better products. If we can’t make something that is better, we won’t do it.” His design genius had played a large role in the massive growth of Apple over the last few years. The Apple Watch, for example, was a major project of his. The first version was a bit of a flop, and critics were shocked to see Apple create something that was less than amazing. But thanks to Ive, they adapted by embracing the fitness tracker aspect and partnered with Nike. We don’t get it right all the time,” Ive says of the long process of perfecting any Apple product. “As designers, you’re having to constantly learn.”

What makes Apple design so good?

As new products come out every year from Apple, they continue to wow critics, experts, and customers alike with their sleek minimalism, easy interface, and signature simplicity. When you really take a look at their phones, computers, tablets, and watches, it’s easy to see how much the design plays a role in its popularity. If you're drawn to Apple's succinct style, we suspect you'll also enjoy our more minimal and modular furniture designs. And, as always, our free design experts our here to help you craft the perfect piece. We think Steve would approve.