A Coffee Table Book About Apple As Thoughtfully Designed As Any iPhone

Iconic is a new photography book that aims to trace Apple’s future by exploring its past.

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Back in 2010, Apple CEO Tim Cook famously said: “We can put all of our products on the table you’re sitting at.” It’s a great metaphor, but fitting all of Apple’s desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and accessories would still require a pretty big table. If you want to go smaller, consider Iconic, a photographic shrine to Apple designed by Australian photographer Jonathan Zufi. Filled with gorgeous photographs of over 400 Apple products, it’s a coffee table book just as carefully designed as the products it covers.

Over 300 pages long, Iconic explores the visual design language of each family of Apple products in six chapters: Desktops, Portables, Peripherals, iDevices, Prototypes, and Packaging. Every chapter includes an introduction from a different expert, thinker, or pundit, including influential early Apple engineer Daniel Kottke, architect Neal Pann, Apple journalist Jim Dalrymple, and Apple’s fuzzy-wuzzy co-founder himself, Steve Wozniak.

According to Zufi, the Iconic project started after nostalgia inspired him to hunt down an old Apple II to play a game he once loved in high school. Looking through the vintage Apple computers and accessories available on eBay, Zufi was struck by the images. Today, Apple photographs its products to emphasize each gadget as an objet d’art in its own right, but that wasn’t always the case. In the ’70s and ’80s, pictures of Apple products tended to be fairly artless and utilitarian. Zufi’s idea was to put together something that showcased all of Apple’s old gear using the same photographic style you associate with the company today.

From the beginning, it was important to Zufi that Iconic be a beautiful, physical object, not only a digital artifact. “I find eBooks to be distracting, especially on an iOS device where emails, push notifications, and phone calls interfere with reading,” Zufi tells me. “I also wanted people to leaf through the pages of the book slowly, not just swipe through them as quickly as possible. Books can be beautiful things and I wanted to create something beautiful to complement the subject matter. I truly believed that if I could marry the emotional pull of Apple’s heritage with the classic presentation of a fine art photography book, that it would be something people would enjoy.”

To that end, Zufi teamed up with Ridgewood Publishing to self-publish. Just like aluminum is important to Apple VP of design, Jony Ive, paper is an important material to Zufi. Sparing no expense, the 12 x 9.625 inch volume is printed on high-quality paper, while the dust jacket is printed on 105 pound art gloss with special film lamination. The special edition of the book comes in a special case reminiscent of an old Macintosh chassis.

Steve Jobs once said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Iconic is about connecting the dots of Apple’s design past, and seeing implied in the line they trace the future of the company. Apple may be only incrementally innovating right now, but Zufi believes that the next major revolution isn’t too far away. “It’s hard to wait for that next project to shift industries, but Apple has done it before, and I believe they will do it again,” says Zufi.


Iconic can be ordered now from Zufi’s site starting at $75.