The product designer Sir Jony Ive has been pivotal to transforming the relationship between design and technology over the past three decades. Joining Apple in 1992, Ive was named chief design officer in 2015. Overseeing the company's revolutionary, award-winning products, projects and retail stores, Ive and his team realised beautiful, minimalist yet radical propositions. Ive conceives of clever designs conducive to everyday living, at the highest standard. To say Ive's work continues to form the benchmark for the next generation of talent would be an understatement.
Ive left Apple in 2019, launching the creative collective LoveFrom. Based between San Francisco and London, LoveFrom is made up of designers, architects, musicians, filmmakers, writers, engineers and artists, including Peter Saville and Marc Newson. LoveFrom and Ive worked on a consultancy basis with Apple until 2022, but other collaborative projects so far include Ferrari, Air BnB and King Charles III's official coronation emblem.
Focused on nurturing a global ecosystem of design excellence, LoveFrom have now officially launched their international design scholarships programme for undergraduate and postgraduate students. Resolving to help cultivate creative career paths, which are increasingly threatened by government cuts to arts education - in England, for instance, funding to arts subjects in higher education has been cut by 50% - the LoveFrom scholarships are part of Ive's effort to mend a broken system.
When we meet over video call, it quickly becomes clear that Ive isn't a man who assumes to know it all, despite his world-renowned résumé. Instead, it's a genuine, curious desire to uncover a new generation of design talent which underpins Ive and LoveFrom's international scholarship programme. 'One of the things that can paralyse you from trying to do anything, is a sense of being so overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge and the breadth of the choice', Ive says when we begin to talk about the vast problems facing the creative industries. 'There's been the dismantling of art and design education for everyone.'
Setting aside the fear of getting it wrong, Ive selected three renowned art schools to receive permanent annual funding from LoveFrom's scholarships, covering tuition and some living expenses. One student is supported at California College for the Arts (CCA) and also at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), with up to two students supported each year at the Royal College of Art in London. Ive has personal ties to all three colleges; the RCA, where Ive was named Chancellor in 2017, is of course a link back to Ive's London roots. The CCA, meanwhile, nods to Ive's on-going commitment to his adult home of San Francisco. He explains his admiration for RISD derives from the school being 'the quintessential art design college of practice. While acknowledging the power of digital tools, it absolutely celebrates and believes in the fundamental importance of actually making things.'
Ive never claims to have experienced the full complexities of the economic and social barriers to higher education, but identifies a moral imperative to ensure the design talent pool is reflective of society and culture. 'There are certain creative areas which seem more representative and others which certainly aren't. One of the problems, particularly for underrepresented minorities, is the sense of possibility. If you don't know there is a choice, how can you make a choice?' he says. 'I know, with absolute certainty, that the best work comes from diverse groups. From 30 years of experience and being able to collaborate with a wonderfully diverse mixture of really brilliant creatives, that's where good work comes from. Given my resolve, commitment and drive to try and pursue work that's excellent, of course this is something that I want to try and make some contribution to; helping establish a talent pool that's more representative of the culture it should be serving.'
The LoveFrom scholarship programme is about more than the exchange of cash. 'The money is necessary but it's not sufficient,' Ive confirms. 'It's very much that sense of really trying to understand how we can be supportive, useful and of service. While they're at college, we see them very much as being part of the LoveFrom community, having a direct connection with the team. We've supported them by sending them tools which we use, whether it's as simple as reading lists that we've found helpful or useful.'
Ive's palpable excitement as we discuss the potentials for this global, self-contained LoveFrom community is hugely encouraging. 'This is very much a work in progress, it's not where our expertise is, but one of the things we're trying to work out is how can we try and encourage a sense of discreet community', he says. Together, LoveFrom scholars 'will by definition share some of the same struggles but hopefully celebrate some of the same victories. That could be a really powerful creative group.'
For more information about how to apply contact the colleges directly as part of the annual Autumn admissions process.