Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s lead designer for decades, has been officially removed from the leadership page on Apple’s website. It was announced earlier this year that he would be leaving Apple’s full-time employ to focus on his new company, LoveFrom, but this move suggests his departure is complete.
It’s said Apple will remain a client of Ive’s new company, so the link isn’t entirely severed – but some have suggested this could be little more than a symbolic relationship. Will Apple struggle without the man who oversaw some of the most iconic tech designs ever? We mused over this at length when we first caught wind of the news:
“For many people, the immediate emotional reaction on hearing this news went something like this: what will happen now the guy who designed all the good stuff is gone? After all, pre-Ive, Apple wasn’t exactly innovating in the design space. Without his lead and input, won’t Apple become just another tech company, churning out hardware? This sense of unease was exacerbated further by the news Jeff Williams – Apple’s operations guy – will be who the new design heads report to.
This is an understandable response, but reductive and deeply unfair on Apple’s design team as a whole. It assumes Ive was more a Picasso than a designer – a lone genius crafting his creations, isolated from everyone else. As for Williams being the wrong fit, this misunderstands how design works at scale. Apple has in Ive’s time at the company changed massively – it’s gone from a relatively niche concern to a major player, shifting many millions of devices every quarter. Good design is driven by multiple factors, but when you’re making as many iPhones, iPads and Macs as Apple is, one of the biggest is needing to know you can get them out into the world.”
Reports suggest this was an inevitable move, as Ive had been moving steadily away from his old hands-on approach since the release of the first-gen Apple Watch in 2015. The reports state he was often late or absent from meetings and had been steadily providing less feedback to the design team over the last few years.
So perhaps it’s for the best that Apple’s design team no longer answers to a single God-like entity – but we’re certainly interested to see what Ive designs next!