SFMOMA Treasures Apple's Jony Ive

Tech-obsessed guests at SFMOMA's Modern Art Council dinner were paying attention - they even looked up from their iPhones to see Jonathan 'Jony' Ive receive the Bay Area Treasure Award. After all, the benighted Sir Jony from Newcastle was a good part of the reason their iPhones offered such riveting allure, having led the team which designed them in the first place. Guests of the Modern Art Council's evening at the Julia Morgan Ballroom were eager to glimpse the modest British design phenomenon behind the iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone and the hotly anticipated iWatch, and were delighted to encounter a gracious, self-effacing Every man who insisted on giving credit to his team, many of whom were sharing the straightforward steak-and-potatoes dinner, Martin Ray wines and chocolate s'mores tart. Ive is the first industrial designer to receive the Bay Area Treasure Award, given to local innovators who "redefine contemporary visual culture." As Apple's Senior Vice President of Design, Ive joins a pantheon which includes landscape designer Lawrence Halprin, painters Nathan Olivera, Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Bechtle, sculptor Richard Serra, photographer Larry Sultan and last year's winner, filmmaker George Lucas. In a brief program, Ive recalled how, upon graduating from Newcastle Polytechnic, he defied the then-popular convention of moving to Milan in favor of Cupertino, to join then-struggling Apple Computer. Once Steve Jobs returned to the company and discovered Ive's aesthetic prowess, the collaborations which changed everything began in earnest. Designing at Apple, he discovered, "You could have a clear sense via the object of the people that made it and what their values were." About the upcoming iWatch, prototypes of which were furtively spotted on a few wrists in the room (surprisingly chic, and unsurprisingly covetous,) he said, "The technology associated with timekeeping is fascinating....we are starting to minimize, miniaturize and become more reliable. When you design a phone there are less expectations. Designing a watch, it starts the same thing, but you are not going to wear a space capsule on your wrist." He went on to comment on work he admired, citing the design of a simple kerosene lamp in India that safely solves an essential problem of daily life as "something to aspire to." Given the enthusiasm in the room, and his remarkable output thus far, it seems clear that the latest Bay Area Treasure is certainly the one to iWatch.

Dialing it: Heather Ive, Modern Art Council President Candace Cavanaugh, and Event Chair Maria Tenaglia Watson, and committee which included Joni Binder Shwarts, Courtney Dallaire, Nathalie Delrue-McGuire, Shelley Gordon, Betsy Linder, and Jennifer Benham, SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra with Maria Makela, Board Chair Bob Fisher with Randi Fisher, Helen and Charles Schwab, Associate Curator of Architecture and Design Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher, Program interviewer Frances Anderton, Helen Hilton Raiser, Barbara and Stephan Vermut, Maria Teneglia Watson and Chris Watson, John Berggruen, Dolly and George Chammas, Stanlee Gatti, Tito Jankowski, Nina Lalic, Susan Atherton, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, Susan Swig, Yves Behar and Sabrina Buell, Drue and Art Gensler, Ross Goldstein, Jennifer Morla and Nilus de Matran, industrial designer Wilhelm Oehl with Lan Oehl, Christine Suppes with the designers from couture favorite On Aura Tu Vu Yassen Samouilov and Livia Stoianova, Alka and Ravin Agrawal, Alison and Mark Pincus, Elizabeth and David Birka-White, Designer Andrew Gn, Frish Brandt, Mimi Haas, Stephan Jenkins and many design-loving darlings who wouldn't dream of phoning it in.