Apple’s vice president of industrial design details MacBook Air redesign

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Apple’s design chief detailed how the company redesigned the M2-powered MacBook Air, along with other details about the device.

Evans Hankey, corporate vice president of industrial design, recently spoke with GQ Magazine UK on topics ranging from the MacBook Air’s sleek design, what inspired one of its new colors, and how the svelte laptop has always been “provocative.”

“It’s always been a product where it’s a bit provocative,” Hankey said. “The first MacBook Air started in the studio when we assembled display cases from what I suspect would have been the PowerBook at the time.”

About a decade and a half ago, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs pulled the first MacBook Air out of a manila envelope, Hankey explained how the Cupertino company redesigned the MacBook Air. On the one hand, that was no small feat, as the model is the company’s best-selling Mac laptop.

“I think the Air takes a lot of courage, because it’s like, ‘What are you going to keep?'” Hankey said.

That courage translated into a meticulous redesign of the MacBook Air that involved a lot of collaboration between Hankey and his colleagues on Apple’s design team.

For example, the components of the MacBook Air are so tightly packed into its small frame – a task that involved creating a spreadsheet for each part’s intended size. The team regularly measured his center of gravity so that he didn’t stray too far left or right.

Despite the device’s attention to detail, Hankey said the result was still meant to be simple.

“We don’t really need to play shape or form games to make it look thin,” she said. “And I think that’s one of the most beautiful and remarkable things: it’s quite honest and simple.”

Beyond the technicality of the redesign, Hankey also pointed out how the MacBook Air kept its personality. While the wedge-shaped frame is gone, the model now sports a variety of colors, including the Basalt hue which is “much appreciated” by Apple’s design team.

“So this one was from the Basalt volcanic rock,” Hankey said. “Do you know this rock? My father was a geologist.

And while the MacBook Air is quite different from the MacBook Pro, Hankey said neither device was designed in a vacuum. She said that “it was the first time that we set out to create a family of products together”.

Since Apple’s design chief, Jony Ive, left the company, Hankey has taken matters into his own hands and has been responsible for the look and feel of Apple products ever since.

The full interview, which also features some of Hankey’s colleagues, is available at QG website.

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