Almost 30 years with the company, Sir Jonathon Ive, the chief design officer of Apple, will resign in order to pursue his own independent firm ‘LoveFrom’.
Ive joined Apple in 1992 as part of the design division, and in 1996 Steve Jobs appointed him as senior vice-president of Industrial Design, until he was promoted to chief design officer in 2015. Since then, he has remained a fundamental part of the company itself, often credited as the mastermind who brought Apple from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s to its current status as a trillion-dollar company. In fact, his contribution to modern industrial and software design is so widely regarded that he was even knighted in 2013 “for services to design and enterprise”, and was awarded the Stephen Hawking Fellowship in Cambridge late last year.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has stated that, irrespective of Ive’s move to his own independent firm, Apple will be one of LoveFrom’s primary customers, and will still continue to work with Ive on exclusive Apple projects. Apple has not announced a replacement for Ive, which suggests that he will continue his work with Apple and have an input in Apple products, from his own independent firm.
Ive is largely viewed as an indispensable part of the company, due to his significant impact on all of the Apple products we know today. He was pivotal in the creation and designs behind Apple hardware and software. Yet, while his departure from the company may be a shock for some, it is quite unsurprising for others, given his behaviour in the past few years.
He has worked on some of the most iconic and renowned pieces of consumer technology to date, and will forever be legendary for his contribution and influence over software aesthetics and modern industrial design.
Following Steve Jobs’ death in 2011, Ive became one of the most important people at the company, having a much larger say in what products Apple would ultimately launch, their function and their aesthetic. He was given a more central role in the iOS software development following the departure of iOS software chief Scott Forstall in 2013.
In the ensuing iOS 7 software update, with Ive’s lead, Apple abandoned its retro and more skeuomorphic elements in favour of the more modern aesthetics. Still, following the launch of the Apple Watch in 2015, Ive took on a lesser role within the oversight of Apple’s design team, notably appearing at the Apple headquarters much more infrequently. Furthermore, he has kept his distance from public events for Apple in recent years, despite returning in 2017 to his role as chief design officer after a two year “hands-off” break. This “hands-off” approach could have been indicative of his impending resignation.
However, in Apple’s press release announcing Ive’s departure, the company highlighted many of Ive’s accomplishments such as the “1998’s ground-breaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park”, where, according to Cook, Ive has recently put in “so much of his energy and care”. Cook makes it abundantly clear that the partnership between Apple and Ive is not finished, and that their relationship merely “continues to evolve”.
Despite his departure, Ive’s achievements within the modern industrial design and software aesthetics are unparalleled and legendary. He is now one of the world’s most famous designers, and has been at the forefront of Apple’s design and innovation for more than 20 years. Ive was one of Jobs’ most notorious close associates when designing breakthrough products such as the iPhone. His contribution to the creation of the iPhone was revolutionary, and arguably has paved the way for future innovation. Together, Jobs and Ive managed to turn Apple into the world’s most valuable and profitable companies to date, which it remained until recently usurped by Microsoft.
Undeniably, Ive’s innovation with the iPod and iPhone has changed our relationship with technology in an almost irreversible manner. Despite his departure, Sir Jony Ive has had an indisputably fundamental role within Apple, and since the late 1990s has left a prolific legacy behind. He has worked on some of the most iconic and renowned pieces of consumer technology to date, and will forever be legendary for his contribution and influence over software aesthetics and modern industrial design. Regardless of the fact that Ive is no longer working there, it seems that within Apple itself, he is utterly irreplaceable. Thus, while it is clearly an end of an era for Apple, it is likely that Ive will still continue to have an impact within Apple for many more years to come; just not as a direct employee of Apple.
Nina Mul is an intern with Gulf News