Jony Ive and Tim Cook at the September 2018 launch of iPhone XR | Photo provided by Apple

Apple has announced that Jonathan ‘Jony’ Ive, Apple's chief design officer, is leaving the company ‘later this year to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.’

Ive's departure is a monumental one considering the impact he's had on Apple products since he was hired in September 1992. From the original, iconic iMac to Apple's new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California, which is estimated to have cost upwards of five billion dollars to construct, Ive has played a critical role in the look and—arguably more importantly—feel of Apple products for more than two decades.

No one person will assume the role of chief design officer, a title more or less created for Ive. Instead, as Apple explains below, two other design team leaders within Apple are expected to fill the void Ive is leaving behind1:

Design team leaders Evans Hankey, vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design, will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer.

It's unknown how much interaction will occur between Apple and Ive's new design firm, but John Gruber of Daring Fireball says:

This angle that he’s still going to work with Apple as an independent design firm seems like pure spin. You’re either at Apple or you’re not. Ive is out.

Gruber also points out that despite Ive leaving Apple, there's little doubt his impact on Apple will remain for years to come, regardless of the role his design firm will have with the design of Apple products:

Apple’s hardware and industrial design teams work so far out that, even if I’m right and Ive is now effectively out of Apple, we’ll still be seeing Ive-designed hardware 5 years from now. It is going to take a long time to evaluate his absence.

Time will tell the impact Ive's departure will have on Apple and its products.


1AppleInsider has a great run-down of who Evans Hankey and Alan Dye are.