Ever since Apple and chief design officer Jony Ive announced that he was leaving the company earlier this year to start his own design firm, it’s been a bit of an open-ended question about when he would actually depart. But his removal from Apple’s Leadership page – the listing of the company’s top officers – suggests that Apple has turned that corner.
Ive joined Apple in 1992 and has led Apple’s design time since the mid-1990s. He languished for years under Apple’s then dysfunctional leadership before Steve Jobs’ return to the company. With Jobs as his champion, Ive flourished, leading the design of Apple’s most iconic products over the past 20 years: the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch all carry Ive’s indelible imprimatur.
His magnum opus ultimately became Apple itself: Ive also led the design of Apple Park, the torus-shaped $5 billion, 2.8-million square foot headquarters in Cupertino, California that opened in April, 2017, where more than 2,000 Apple employees work.
It’s been no secret within and without Apple that Ive’s focus at Apple has diminished in recent years especially since the completion of Apple Park, so it wasn’t entirely unexpected when the company announced that Ive was leaving Apple to form his own independent design studio. The new studio is called LoveFrom, and counts Apple as one of its first clients.
It’ll be interesting to see how Jony Ive continues to influence Apple outside its walls. Ive’s obsession with industrial minimalism has led Apple down a path of ever-thinner Mac and iPhone designs over the years. And that’s created real-world challenges that have cost Apple millions. Just ask anyone who’s suffered with problems with bendy iPhones, for example. Or MacBook Pro keyboards that suddenly stop working, forcing Apple to cover those laptops under a blanket service program to replace the keyboards when they fail.
The new 16-inch MacBook Pro is seen by some as Apple’s first significant pushback against Ive’s uncompromising design focus. It’s thicker than its predecessors and eschews the problematic butterfly switch found in earlier models for a more robust scissor switch design that, hopefully, will have fewer problems over the long haul.
Apple’s design teams are now led by Evan Hankey, vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design, who now report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.