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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Apple design guru honoured
Jonathan Ive
Ive won a 25,000 prize from the Design Museum
A man who began his career designing washbasins in Essex has won a prestigious design award for his stylish work with Apple computers.

Jonathan Ive has been named Designer of the Year in the competition run by London's Design Museum to find "the UK designer that made the biggest contribution to design in the past year".

The 36-year-old has been largely responsible for transforming Apple's image with his revolutionary curved shape all-in-one iMac.

His ideas helped establish the company's products, which he said had previously been bland "beige boxes", as beautifully elegant objects in themselves.

When creating the iMac, Mr Ive famously consulted sweet manufactures to find out how he could make the plastic casing both blue and transparent.

His unique style can also be seen in the design of other Apple products, such as the iPod music player and the PowerBook portable computer.

'Lateral thinking'

Mr Ive won his 25,000 prize after being chosen by both a public vote - with more than 20,000 taking part - and a specialist jury, which included top British fashion designer Sir Paul Smith.

Sir Paul said: "Jonathan's designs have touched millions of people's lives and transformed the workplace.


"He once designed a computer mouse by observing a drop of water, that's lateral thinking."

The New York Times recently described Mr Ive as "perhaps the most influential designer in the computer world".

Mr Ive, who was born in London, studied design and art at Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University, before working for a design consultancy on products ranging from power tools to washbasins.

He joined Apple in 1992 where he quickly rose through the ranks and is now vice president of industrial design at the company's California head office.

His former teacher in northern England described him as "almost frightened by his own talent".

Mr Ive believes a large part of his success is down to the relationship he has with Apple boss Steve Jobs, who he describes as a "kindred spirit" for whom innovation is paramount.

Other designers nominated for the title included Rockstar Games, which developed the highly successful Grand Theft Auto video games series.

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