• Apple’s longtime design chief, Jony Ive, is leaving the company later this year, the firm announced on Thursday.
  • Ive will launch an independent design company, called LoveFrom, which will count Apple among its primary clients.
  • Ive has overseen the design of everything from Apple’s products to its retail stores and new campus, and he has been regarded as one of the firm’s most important executives since he joined in 1996.
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Jony Ive, Apple’s famed longtime design chief, is leaving the company later this year, the firm announced on Thursday. He will be launching his own independent design company called LoveFrom, he told the Financial Times in an interview, and Apple will be among its primary clients.

“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 CEO Tim Cook said in a company statement. “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’s design team leads – Evans Hankey, the vice president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, the vice president of human interface design – will now report to Jeff Williams, the company’s chief operating officer. Dye was one of the executives who led the day-to-day operations of Apple’s hardware and software teams while Ive was involved in helping build Apple’s new campus, which opened in 2017, according to Bloomberg. Ive, who was officially named chief design officer in 2015, assumed direct management for these teams once again in 2017.

Read more: 25 design features that show Apple’s incredible attention to detail

According to his interview with the Financial Times, Ive is deciding to leave at this time for two key reasons: the completion of projects he's been working closely on, like Apple Park, and the state of the firm's design team.

"I think that part of the timing for LoveFrom is in some ways connected to having a very clear sense about the health and vitality of the design team," Ives said to the financial newspaper. "I'm actually looking forward to contributing in a different way to projects we've been working together on for, in some cases, many years."

Ive's legacy at Apple

Ive has led Apple's design team since 1996 and has become one of the company's most iconic public figures. As the design guru behind Apple's biggest products, he has widely been regarded as being one of the most important executives at Apple other than Cook. He was a close confidant of Steve Jobs, Apple's late cofounder and former chief executive, and played a critical role in shaping the firm's history and building it into one of the world's most valuable technology companies.

Ive has helped steer Apple's product design and direction through many of the tech giant's growth phases, joining the firm when it was on the brink of bankruptcy and staying on through its ascent to become the first publicly traded US company worth more than $1 trillion, a position it briefly held in 2018.

Tim Cook Jony Ive

Foto: sourceetty

Over the course of his more than two-decade long tenure at Apple, Ive led the company though hallmark product launches in new categories, including the iMac in 1998, the iPhone in 2007, and the Apple Watch in 2014. He's been responsible for the design of everything from Apple's hardware to its software, product packaging, retail stores, and the Apple Park campus. Ive has been honored with a number of awards, such as being named the Design Museum London's first Designer of the Year in 2003. He also won the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's Product Design Award in 2007.

"After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer," Ive said in an Apple press release. "Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple's history. The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come."

What's next for Apple and Ive

Ive is departing Apple as the company is branching into new territories, including television and gaming. The company held an event in March where it unveiled a paid TV subscription service called Apple TV Plus, which will offer Apple device owners access to exclusive original programming and a gaming service called Apple Arcade. The announcements come amid a push from Apple to expand its growing digital-services business as iPhone sales have stalled.

Apple's new products always draw a lot of attention. But with Ive no longer holding an official role inside the company, the firm's upcoming product releases - including these digital services and its next iPhones - are likely to be more closely watched than ever.

As for Ive, he hasn't disclosed exactly what his new design firm would focus on, but told the Financial Times he wanted to continue working on wearable technology and healthcare.

"We saw we could use technology to be extraordinarily useful in relation to our health and wellbeing," he said to the outlet. "This area is one that I've been fascinated by, as is specifically addressed by wearable technology."