Sir Jony Ive, the former Apple designer responsible for such iconic products as the iPhone and iMac, has returned to the design arena with an unusual project: He has created the red nose for this year’s Comic Relief charity event in the U.K.
Comic Relief is a British comedy-themed charity that raises money for a range of causes. It is responsible for the yearly Red Nose Day telethon, featuring comedians and other celebrities, and members of the public are encouraged to buy a red nose to wear on the day, which takes place Friday, March 17 this year. The design of the nose is tweaked each year.
As might be expected from the man behind so many iconic products, Ive’s design is ambitious and something of a departure for both him and the nose. With the ability to compress into a flat crescent, it’s largely made of delicately folded paper—the charity says the materials are 95 percent plant-based, after agreeing in 2021 to stop making the noses from single-use plastic—and looks faintly reminiscent of the HomePod’s mesh.
Not that we can be sure how much of a hand Ive actually had in the design of even the first HomePod model. He ran the design shop at Cupertino until 2019 and remained theoretically associated with the company on a consulting basis until last year. But there are suspicions that he began to withdraw from the higher-pressure aspects of the job as early as 2015 when he was given the Chief Design Officer title along with a looser role; at the time we interpreted this as semi-retirement, so realistically he may not have designed much of note since the first Apple Watch.
But he appears to have gone all in with the red nose. In a press release by the charity, the red nose “has been a fabulously complex little object to design and make and has involved our entire team.” A tongue-in-cheek video meant to mimic a dramatic product announcement doesn’t feature Ive’s voiceover, but does call his design the “most perfect nose in history.”
You can buy the Ive red nose, which is not suitable for children under the age of seven, for £2.50 (about $3 in today’s conversion). It’s also available at Amazon UK but is currently out of stock.
Note that there is a separate Comic Relief charity in the U.S. (it’s known as Comic Relief Inc) and a separate Red Nose Day. Sadly, Ive’s design won’t be used for that event.