Jony Ive is a mythic figure in gadget design. He’s the mastermind behind the aesthetic of Apple’s most iconic products, and is internet famous for his Gwyneth Paltrow-esque descriptive phrasing. He’s also got pretty good taste in shoes. Last year, he consciously uncoupled from Apple, and now, Ive is apparently “engaging in a special collaboration” with Airbnb. Well, OK!
In a blog post, Airbnb cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky announced Ive’s new design firm, LoveFrom, would be entering a “multi-year relationship to design the next generation of Airbnb products and services.” Chesky says he and Ive have been good friends for several years, as it turns out, and says both “believe not only in making objects and interfaces but in crafting services and experiences.” However, aside from noting that Ive would be helping build out Airbnb’s internal design team, Chesky didn’t provide much in the form of what Ive and his firm will actually be doing.
That said, the Financial Times reports that Alex Schleifer, Airbnb’s chief design officer, is poised to leave the company and that Ive will help “revamp the company’s app and website, including the ratings-based system of vetting guests and hosts.”
Airbnb has had a bit of a year as the global pandemic curtailed travel, leading to layoffs in May which reportedly prompted Chesky to cry into his video camera—though according to the Financial Times, the company’s fortunes have since rebounded now that lockdown restrictions have eased. Even so, considering that the travel industry faces a lot of uncertainty, it makes sense that Airbnb might be looking for Ive to lend some of his “magic.”
As for Ive, it would appear that not much has changed. In an email to Chesky obtained by the FT, Ive wrote: “I love that we both look at the world with such curiosity and care so deeply about the creative process and new ideas. We have learned that despite the inherent fragility of ideas, they can be developed to become more profound and powerful.”
I have no idea what that means, but ostensibly Chesky does. It would seem the two are happy to wax lyrical about each other, and maybe that’s the sort of business bromance Ive’s been missing since the death of Steve Jobs. In any case, glad these two have found each other and, boy oh boy, I can’t wait for whatever purple prose press release comes out whenever this special collaborative, multi-year relationship bears fruit.