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Jony Ive Delivers Virtual Commencement Speech, Courtesy of Nick Knight

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LONDON — Sir Jony Ive addressed graduating students at California College of the Arts in style this week with a short film directed by Nick Knight, and produced by ShowStudio.

Ive, the industrial designer, chancellor of London’s Royal College of Art, and former chief design officer at Apple, delivered an unconventional, polished, cinema-quality commencement address to the artists, designers, architects and writers in the graduating class of 2021.

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Sitting against a black background, and wearing a dark academic gown, Ive talked to students about his own past as a “shy person, who couldn’t read very well, or speak with confidence,” and about the importance of remaining curious and cooperative and of prioritizing ideas over opinions.

He told the students to “respect” their work and their creativity, and to listen to, and make space for, new ideas, “rather than fill every moment with opinions. Opinions are not ideas, opinions are not as important as ideas, opinions are just opinions,” Ive said.

The British designer also urged students to think sideways, and told them not to be “distracted or limited” by their particular areas of expertise. Ive, who worked closely with Steve Jobs at Apple and helped to design the iPhone, iPad and MacBook, among many other products, stressed the important of curiosity, and cooperation.

“Curiosity can unite us, and help temper our fear of doing something new,” he said.

At the end of the 15-minute speech, the camera pulled back to show Ive sitting against a black backdrop in a vast white studio, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the filmmaking process by two groundbreaking British creatives, Knight and Ive.

Knight and ShowStudio are no strangers to the collegiate production.

A fashion film pioneer, Knight has created visual narratives around design and art students’ final projects at schools including Central Saint Martins, Cambridge School of Art, Anglia Ruskin University and Royal College of Art.

Ive began his five-year term as chancellor of the RCA in 2017, having succeeded the British inventor James Dyson. He has been advising the graduate school on digital initiatives and advance manufacturing, and a variety of other projects. He left Apple in 2019 and started his own design firm, LoveFrom, together with fellow industrial designer Marc Newson.