Jony Ive’s advice to the next generation of designers

Sir Jony Ive spotlights the power of imagination at California College of the Arts’ 2021 commencement

Still portrait of Jony Ive
Still image of Sir Jony Ive, in a film directed by Nick Knight, produced by SHOWStudio
(Image credit: press)

Sir Jony Ive – former chief design officer at Apple, and founder of the LoveFrom collective – has given some heartfelt and truly moving messages to the next generation of design talent, during a virtual ceremony at California College of the Arts, for the graduating class of 2021.

‘As a generation of creatives, with your own new and hopeful ideas, you are critically important,' says Ive, to the 500 graduating artists, makers, architects and designers he is directly addressing. Listening too, are countless others striving to find footing in a world hit hard by the pandemic. ‘This is not the time to seek the comfortable familiarity of the past,' Ive continues in a poignant reminder of the urgency of ideas, imagination and innovation, ‘but rather to build and make something new.’

A quote that says: "Being curious fuels our appetite to learn, and wanting to learn is far more important than being right."

Still from the film, directed by Nick Knight, produced by SHOWStudio

(Image credit: press)

In the address, Ive draws a line of difference between ‘the specifics of design’ and ‘the fundamentally important skills of creativity’. The rigidity of the former tugs at the free and childlike musings of the latter. Go with the latter, Ive urges. ‘Without profoundly new thinking and ideas, our practice has no purpose.’

He leaves us with soundbites of brilliance; post-it sized mantras that will no doubt be pinned to the noteboards and iPads of these 500 creatives as they move from job, to role, to career, to change-maker. ‘Opinions are not ideas, opinions are not as important as ideas, opinions are just opinions,' says Ive. ‘Being curious fuels our appetite to learn and wanting to learn is far more important than being right.'

Watch: Jony Ive on the importance of design in contemporary culture

Graduation ceremonies, like all events necessarily transformed by events of the last year, have been adapted digitally. The CCA's virtual commencement rose to the virtual challenge with a special film directed by photographer and director Nick Knight and produced by SHOWStudio, which you can watch in full below.

Film directed by Nick Knight, produced by SHOWStudio


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.