Sir Jony Ive is leaving Apple to start his own company. The 52 year-old British designer has worked at Apple for 30 years and is the mastermind behind some of the Californian company's most iconic designs, including the iMac, iPod, iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, and the spaceship-like Apple Park headquarters, to name a few.
The Apple Chief Design Officer will leave the company at the end of the year to found his own creative firm, LoveFrom, which has already lined-up his former employer as its first client. Ive, who has been in-charge of all industrial design at Apple since 1997, announced his departure in an exclusive interview with the Financial Times (opens in new tab).
"While I will not be an employee, I will still be very involved – I hope for many, many years to come,” Sir Jony Ive told the newspaper. "This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change."
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Little is known about LoveFrom, except that it will be based in California – at least "for now," Ive caveated in his interview with FT, and that renown designer and frequent collaborator Marc Newson, who joined Apple in 2014, will also join the firm.
LoveFrom will be "a collection of creatives" spanning a multitude of different disciplines beyond industrial design, Ive said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said: "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. 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."
Apple has yet to announce a new appointment for the Chief Design Officer role, which was created for Sir Jony Ive back in May 2015. In the last few years at Apple, Ive oversaw the hardware and software design, with the dramatic visual overhaul in iOS 7 and OS X Yosemite credited to him and his team.
But Sir Jony Ive is best known for the Apple products that he designed in collaboration with his close friend Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the Cupertino-based company was haemorrhaging money and weeks from filing for bankruptcy. Less than a year later, Steve Jobs introduced the iMac – an all-in-one desktop machine with a cheery, globular design and bold coloured case that was created from the ground-up by Sir Jony Ive, who Steve had identified as a talent within the failing firm, and a small team of designers.
After the critical and commercial success of the iMac, there followed a string of unprecedented hits from Apple – all designed by Sir Jony Ive and sold on-stage by Steve Jobs during his trademark keynote presentations (opens in new tab).
Rumours of Sir Jony Ive's departure have been swirling around the company for years, with many Apple watchers believing the completion of Apple Park – a $5 billion campus designed to house 12,000 employees in a single loop that is seemingly built entirely of glass and has a 30-acre park with winding paths, fruit trees and a pond at its heart – would signal the end of this time at the company. The headquarters, envisioned by Steve Jobs and Sir Jony Ive, started construction in 2013 – two years after the Apple co-founder died – and was completed early last year.
Little over a year later, Sir Jony Ive has finally confirmed plans to leave the company. So, what does this mean for the next round of products from Apple?
Well, it will be quite some time before we truly see the impact of Sir Jony Ive's departure from the company. The Chief Design Officer and his team work years in advance so it'll be some time before Apple releases its first Ive-less designed iPhone or iPad. Speaking about his continued involvement with the company to the Financial Times, Ive said: "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."