Apple design chief Sir Jonathan Ive has stunningly announced he is leaving the world’s biggest tech company, after a near-30 year stint with Apple in Cupertino.
In an interview with the Financial Times, the man largely credited with the iconic designs like the iPhone, iPod, MacBooks and Mac computers, says he is starting a creative company of his own, but will continue to work with Apple moving forward.
Ive’s new independent design company company is called LoveFrom and will officially open next July, with Apple is its first official client. Apple fans can rest assured Ive will see through projects that are already underway, while he’ll continue to be consulted on future products.
“While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come. This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”
He added: “There are products that we have been working on for a number of years I’m beyond excited that I get to continue working on those, and there are some new projects as well that I’ll get to develop and contribute to.”
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Ive didn’t offer any real insight into what the new LoveFrom company will focus on, but it appears the key driver of the split is the design guru’s desires to explore projects outside of Apple’s reach.
Beyond the late Steve Jobs, the Londoner is the man most-credited with reviving the fortunes of Apple at the turn of the century. His groundbreaking, world-leading industrial designs helped to transform the company from faded computing pioneer, to the maker of arguably the world’s most beloved products.
Current Apple CEO Tim Cook paid tribute to Ive and looked forward to continuing the relationship, moving forward. Cook did not say who would replace Sir Jony as Chief Design Officer at Apple’s top table.
“Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” Cook said in a press release from Apple.
“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”
For Apple, this is the most significant change since an ailing Jobs abdicated the top job at Apple and anointed then-CFO Tim Cook as his successor. Jobs’ last major professional decision played out well for Apple, as Cook has led the company to a trillion dollar valuation.
However, while Cook has continued to steer the ship well, losing the man behind Apple’s iconic product designs could represent even more of an upheaval than the passing of Jobs. In the short term, little may change, but it’s possible a new chief of design, with a vision of his own, could prompt some radical shifts in the look and feel of Apple products moving forward.
Ive is as much part of Apple’s modern DNA as Jobs and his influence – especially over the last two decades – cannot be overstated. He joined Apple in September 1992 from the London-based design agency Tangerine and was appointed VP of Industrial Design by a returning Steve Jobs in 1997. From oranges to Apple, it’s been one hell of a ride for tech’s most iconic designer.