According to an internal memo CEO Tim Cook sent to Apple employees on Monday, Jonathan Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, has been promoted to a brand new role: Chief Design Officer.
According to the memo, a copy of which was obtained by 9to5Mac, Apple has also appointed Richard Howarth, who has been part of the iPhone team from the onset, its new Vice President of Industrial Design in charge of hardware design.
Human Interface chief Alan Dye has received a promotion, too. He is now Apple’s new Vice President of User Interface Design in charge of both desktop and mobile user interface experiences.
In addition to his hardware and software design achievements, the memo credits Ive with being responsible for “the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.”
The Chief Design Officer role was created specifically for Ive, Cook said.
The London-born designer will still oversee hardware and software design across the company, but will hand off day-to-day managerial duties to Howarth and Dye starting June 1.
Ive will remain responsible for all of Apple’s design, “focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives.”
To me, this is an acknowledgment of just how powerful and important the introverted designer has become to Apple. If I were speculating, I’d say that Apple has begun grooming its next CEO.
According to a wide-ranging profile of Ive, published in The New Yorker’s February 2015 issue, the Apple Watch was purely Ive’s baby. That’s why seeing his role expand with today’s promotion is very exciting—especially regarding those “new ideas and future initiatives.”
Here’s Tim Cook’s memo to employees:
I have exciting news to share with you today. I am happy to announce that Jony Ive is being promoted to the newly created position of Chief Design Officer at Apple.
Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.
Design is one of the most important ways we communicate with our customers, and our reputation for world-class design differentiates Apple from every other company in the world. As Chief Design Officer, Jony will remain responsible for all of our design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives. On July 1, he will hand off his day-to-day managerial responsibilities of ID and UI to Richard Howarth, our new vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, our new vice president of User Interface Design.
Richard, Alan and Jony have been working together as colleagues and friends for many years. Richard has been a member of the Design team for two decades, and in that time he has been a key contributor to the design of each generation of iPhone, Mac, and practically every other Apple product. Alan started at Apple nine years ago on the Marcom team, and helped Jony build the UI team which collaborated with ID, Software Engineering and countless other groups on groundbreaking projects like iOS 7, iOS 8 and Apple Watch.
Please join me in congratulating these three exceptionally talented designers on their new roles at Apple.