The man who designed the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone—and even the Apple Store—is leaving Apple. Jony Ive announced in an interview with the Financial Times Thursday that he was departing the company after more than two decades to start LoveForm, a creative agency that will count Apple as its first client. The transition will start later this year, and LoveForm will formally launch in 2020.
Ive has been an indispensable leader at Apple, and the chief guide of the company’s aesthetic vision since 1996, when he became the head of Apple’s design studio. His role took on even greater importance after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2011. Apple will not immediately appoint a new chief design officer. Instead, Alan Dye, who leads Apple’s user interface team, and Evans Hankey, the head of industrial design, will report directly to Apple’s chief operating officer Jeff Williams, according to the Financial Times.
“This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” Ive said in the interview, somewhat perplexingly. Apple’s business is currently weathering many changes: slumping iPhone sales, an increasingly tense trade war between President Trump’s administration and China, the April departure of retail chief Angela Ahrendts. The company is also in the midst of a pivot away from hardware devices to software services.
It’s not yet clear exactly what LoveForm will work on, and Ive was relatively vague about the nature of the firm, though he said he will continue to work on technology and healthcare. Another Apple design employee, Marc Newson, is also leaving to join the new venture.
During an interview with Anna Wintour last November at the WIRED25 summit, Ive discussed the challenges that come with being a mentor to others at Apple. “I still think it’s so remarkable that ideas that can become so powerful and so literally world-changing,” he said. “But those same ideas at the beginning are shockingly fragile. I think the creative process doesn’t naturally or easily sit in a large group of people.”
More soon as this story develops.
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