Market research, so much a part of popular culture, made us see Steve Jobs as a genius obsessed with creating objects so perfect that they could become objects of desire, things we needed without knowing it: technological fetishes with curved edges. Curves offering no resistance as one’s finger glides along the surface of the gadget; curves elegantly framing screens; curves holding the promise of a sensuality cooled by silica and glass.
Steve Jobs was already ill when he embarked on the project for a new Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. From the very beginning he wanted the building to be a signature work, in the same way that his stamp is implicit in the iPhone. For this he chose the British architect Norman Foster, lover of the gentle curves of airplanes. For several months Jobs worked closely with Foster in what we can imagine to have been an extraordinary meeting of minds, tense at times. By the time Jobs died in 2011, the project had taken on the scheme we can admire now, with the building about to open: an immense ring surrounded by a vast savannah of native oak trees, the cost of which is estimated at 5 billion dollars.
The ring comes with a pavilion which, replicating the overall scheme in miniature form, is crowned by a carbon fiber roof 40 meters in diameter (slightly less than that of the Pantheon in Rome), but it still gives the impression of floating over a light enclosure of curving glass panes. The pavilion will be used as a venue for launching products of the kind that made Jobs a global star, and it seems safe to believe that the genius who loved curves would have been pleased with it.