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Core77 speaks with Jonathan Ive on the design of the iPhone 4: Material Matters - Core77

Jonathan Ive on the Design of the iPhone 4 – Stefan Tilkov (stilkov)
"Materials matter." Oh yes they do.
Jonathan Ive on the Design of the iPhone 4
"While [design schools today may have] sophisticated virtual design tools, the danger in relying on them too much is that we can end up isolated from the physical world," he says. "In our quest to quickly make three-dimensional objects, we can miss out on the experience of making something that helps give us our first understandings of form and material, of the way a material behaves--'I press too hard here, and it breaks here' and so on. Some of the digital rendering tools are impressive, but it's important that people still really try and figure out a way of gaining direct experience with the materials."
It is this sort of materials obsession and constant experimentation that led to a decision to use scratch-resistant aluminosilicate glass for the front and back of the phone, as well as developing their own variant of stainless steel to edge the device. When you see the breaks, the three little black reveals that interrupt the band, in photographs, you could be forgiven for assuming you're seeing three separate strips of metal with gaps in between; but in fact it's all one piece.
Not quite as in depth as I might have liked, but interesting nonetheless.
""The best design explicitly acknowledges that you cannot disconnect the form from the material--the material informs the form," says Ive. "It is the polar opposite of working virtually in CAD to create an arbitrary form that you then render as a particular material, annotating a part and saying 'that's wood' and so on. Because when an object's materials, the materials' processes and the form are all perfectly aligned, that object has a very real resonance on lots of levels. People recognize that object as authentic and real in a very particular way.""
"For a designer to continually learn about materials is not extracurricular, it's absolutely essential." – Jennifer Brook (jenniferbrook)