Saturday, October 25, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Steve used to say to me (and he used to say this a lot), “Hey Jony, here’s a dopey idea.” And sometimes they were — really dopey. Sometimes they were truly dreadful. But sometimes they took the air from the room, and they left us both completely silent. Bold, crazy, magnificent ideas. Or quiet, simple ones which, in their subtlety, their detail, they were utterly profound.
And just as Steve loved ideas, and loved making stuff, he treated the process of creativity with a rare and a wonderful reverence. I think he, better than anyone, understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished.
I loved the way that he listened so intently. I loved his perception, his remarkable sensitivity, and his surgically precise opinion. I really believe there was a beauty in how singular, how keen his insight was, even though sometimes it could sting.
As I’m sure many of you know, Steve didn’t confine his sense of excellence to making products. When we travelled together, we would check in and I’d go up to my room. And I’d leave my bags very neatly by the door. And I wouldn’t unpack. And I would go and sit on the bed. I would go and sit on the bed next to the phone. And I would wait for the inevitable phone call: “Hey Jony, this hotel sucks. Let’s go.”
He used to joke that the lunatics had taken over the asylum, as we shared a giddy excitement spending months and months working on a part of a product that nobody would ever see. Not with their eyes. We did it because we really believed it was right because we cared. He believed that there was a gravity, almost a sense of civic responsibility, to care way beyond any sort of functional imperative.
While the work hopefully appeared inevitable, appeared simple and easy, it really cost. It cost us all, didn’t it? But you know what? It cost him most. He cared the most. He worried the most deeply.
He constantly questioned, “Is this good enough? Is this right?” And despite all his successes, all his achievements, he never assumed that we would get there in the end. When the ideas didn’t come, and when the prototypes failed, it was with with great intent, with faith, that he decided to believe we would eventually make something great.
But the joy of getting there! I loved his enthusiasm, his simple delight (often, I think, mixed with some relief) that, yeah, we got there. We got there in the end and it was good. You can see his smile, can’t you? The celebration of making something great for everybody, enjoying the defeat of cynicism, the rejection of reason, the rejection of being told a hundred times, “You can’t do that”. So his, I think, was a victory for beauty, for purity, and, as he would say, for giving a damn.
He was my closest and my most loyal friend. We worked together for nearly fifteen years. (And he still laughed at the way I say “aluminium”.)
For the past two weeks, we’ve all been struggling to find ways to say goodbye. This morning I simply want to end by saying, “Thank you, Steve.” Thank you for your remarkable vision, which has united and inspired this extraordinary group of people. For all that we have learned from you, and for all that we will continue to learn from each other: Thank you, Steve.