The Financial Times has a set of a dozen Jony Ive possessions Apple’s former design chief thinks you should buy. You won’t be surprised to learn that most are extravagant, such as the $123 platinum-plated pencil eraser seen above, but one of them does start at just a few dollars …
The FT has a regular feature known as How To Spend It (HTSI), in which they pick a public figure, and ask them to share some of their favorite spending recommendations.
Generally, HTSI lists are what might be termed aspirational. The Guardian notes that a recent suggestion was a three-day gastronomic tour of Spain by private jet, with a starting price of $8,660. I’ll get right on that.
This time they picked Ive, and the result was not just the list of items, but a set of features focused on the art of making things. The designer opens by talking about … hands.
Long an obsession of mine, it has always struck me that the process of creating and making finds expression in so many different forms. The things we make can be tangible and somewhat permanent, like buildings or products or paintings, or like the silver coffee pot my father made. Or they can be as exquisitely temporal as an arrangement of flowers, or food or music.
Perhaps predictably, this has become a rather personal issue of How To Spend It as I have gathered together many of the people, objects and places that I love. Trying to understand the connection between the absurdly varied things we make, I found myself again and again thinking about our hands. Our extraordinary hands. I find hands both fascinating and unfailingly beautiful.
They are so central to making, being such perfect tools; durable, versatile and expressive.
Our hands are unique and personal. The more we stare at them, the more curiously odd they seem; the nails, the joints, the creases and lines, even on the hands of a child. And while our hands are so uniquely visible they often pass unnoticed, avoiding the judgments imposed on other parts of our bodies. We decorate and adorn them, and with rings we declare fidelity and love.
Perhaps our hands have become less necessary in a digital world, but in a pandemic of loneliness and isolation, the nuance and power of direct touch and connection seems more critical than ever.
Our hands have assumed an iconic and cultural importance.
They are represented and understood as symbols of making, skill and industry, as symbols of solidarity, power and resolve. We can hold hands. We can punch.
And of course, our hands both enable our writing, our painting, our building and in turn tell unique stories of how we use them. They enable us and they describe us.
He and his long-term collaborator Marc Newson then talk about tools. Ive said that he started designing things before he even knew what design was.
My father was a silversmith and teacher. I think the most precious Christmas present I received from him was a day or two of his time in the workshop. There was an understanding that I had to spend time thinking about and drawing what I wanted to make. I didn’t really know it was called “design”.
Growing up, it seemed a very natural thing to understand the physical world by understanding how it was made. Obviously everything in here was designed and made, and everything that is designed and made stands as testament to the values of the people behind it. I think it is interesting to understand an object in terms of how it came to be: not just the philosophy behind it. but how it was made. I think it is quite rare that people could even describe how the chair they sit on is actually made.
That piece is worth reading in full, and there’s another on “the magic of silver.” But you know and I know that you only clicked to see the dozen things Jony suggests you buy. Numbers two and twelve are apparently just things whose design he admires, but the rest are geared to making things.
Most do fall into the “extravagant” bracket, but at the same time, many are affordable luxuries. I couldn’t personally imagine spending £100 ($123) on the platinum-plated eraser seen in the above photos, but if I were drawing and erasing every day, I might feel differently.
1 Torque wrench
Snap-On adjustable torque wrench, £455
Linn titanium Ekos SE tonearm, $5,645, basilaudio.com
3 Hex keys
Wiha colour-coded hex L-Key set, from $3.69 (though the set is more)
4 Paper folder
Paper folder, hwebber.co.uk
5 Measuring Tape
Hermès leather In The Pocket measuring tape, $530
Vintage brass folding magnifier by Leitz Wetzlar, from Jony Ive’s personal collection
7 Fountain pen
Vintage pen by Montegrappa, from Jony’s personal collection
Graf Von Faber-Castell platinum-plated eraser, £100, jacksonsart.com
9 Pencil case
Vintage leather pouch by Visvim, from Jony’s personal collection
Mitutoyo 6in universal bevel protractor, £264
11 Depth gauge
Starrett 440Z-3RL depth micrometer, $355
12 Weather station
Wempe Navigator II ship’s clock and weather station, $1,960
Anything tempt you? Let us know in the comments.
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