Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Leaving to Start New Design Company

Tim Cook and Jony Ive

Apple announced today that Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer (CDO) is leaving the company. Ive is planning to start his own independent design firm called LoveFrom, and will be working with Apple as one of his primary clients. In a statement issued by Apple, the Cupertino company says that Ive will “continue to work closely and on a range of projects with Apple.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook had this to say about Jony Ive:

“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,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “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.”

Apple has split the Chief Design Officer role. Design team leaders Evans Hankey has been promoted to Vice President of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye promoted to Vice President of Human Interface Design. Both of them will be reporting to Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer.

Ive joined Apple in 1992, and has been leading the design team since 1996. Since 2012, Ive has lead the design teams for both hardware and software. However, Apple seems to have been planning his departure. Back in December 2015, it promoted Ive to Chief Design Officer, a more executive, non-creative role. He regained management of the design teams at the end of 2015, after a break of two years.

Ive’s new independent design firm, LoveForm, will be based in California for now. The company will work with other companies besides Apple.

Our Take

It doesn’t come as a big surprise as we were expecting it. Steve Jobs was known to work closely with Ive and used to visit his design studios to give feedback on a daily basis. So Jony Ive leaving Apple is the end of a Golden Era. It is going to be a big loss. Apple is trying to down play it by saying that Ive will continue to work with Apple, but it remains to be seen how comfortable Apple is going to be dealing with an independent company. Apple’s stock is down marginally in after-hours trading at the time of publishing this post.

What do you think? Is Jony Ive’s departure a big loss for Apple? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.