The Whiteness of the Whale
Jony Ive had been playing with the foam model of the iPod and trying to conceive what the finished product should look like
when an idea occurred to him on a morning drive from his San Francisco home to Cupertino.
Its face should be pure white, he told his colleague in the car,
and it should connect seamlessly to a polished stainless steel back.
"Most small consumer products have this disposable feel to them," said Ive.
"There is no cultural gravity to them.
The thing I'm proudest of about the iPod is that there is something about it that makes it feel significant, not disposable."
The white would be not just white, but pure white.
"Not only the device, but the headphones and the wires and even the power block," he recalled. "Pure white."
Others kept arguing that the headphones, of course, should be black, like all headphones.
"But Steve got it immediately, and embraced white," said Ive. "There would be a purity to it."
The sinuous flow of the white earbud wires helped make the iPod an icon.
As Ive described it: There was something very significant and nondisposable about it,
yet there was also something very quiet and very restrained.
It wasn't wagging its tail in your face. It was restrained, but it was also crazy, with those flowing headphones.
That's why I like white. White isn't just a neutral color.
It is so pure and quiet. Bold and conspicuous and yet so inconspicuous as well.