(Bloomberg) — Apple Inc. has decided against appointing a new executive to replace its outgoing top product designer, marking a significant change for a company long known for the look and feel of its devices.
Most read by Bloomberg
The iPhone maker’s vice president of industrial design, Evans Hankey, will not be replaced if she leaves the company in the coming months, according to people who are aware of the decision and asked not to be named because the deliberations are private. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Instead, the company’s core group of about 20 industrial designers will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. The company will also give larger roles to a group of Apple’s longest-serving designers. Hankey has reported to Williams since he took the job in 2019 when top designer Jony Ive left to start his own company.
For decades, Apple’s design tsars were among the company’s most prominent personalities. Even before Ive became chief design officer in 1997—around the time co-founder Steve Jobs returned to Apple—executives like Robert Brunner were gaining notoriety for designing the company’s products.
Working with Jobs, I’ve turned Apple’s design aesthetic into something of a religion. They advocated clean lines, simple interfaces, and the occasional pop of color—like the original iMac’s translucent chassis.
But Apple’s design group was dissolved in 2015, and Ive stepped down from his day-to-day role at the company. The team was split into industrial design, which covers hardware, and a department that deals with user interfaces – the look of the company’s software. Hankey was responsible for the industrial design, while Alan Dye continues to lead the other group.
Hankey’s announcement last October that she was leaving the company — after just three years in the role — came as a surprise, leaving Apple with few obvious successors. Her departure is part of a broader exodus within the design team, making finding a replacement all the more difficult. About 15 of Apple’s top designers, including Ive, have left the Cupertino, California-based tech giant since 2015. Bloomberg reported in November that this has hampered efforts to replace Hankey.
Several of the company’s industrial designers joined LoveFrom, a design and consulting firm founded by Ive and Marc Newson, who used to work for Apple. Still, some veteran designers have stayed with Apple, including Molly Anderson, Duncan Kerr, Bart Andre, Richard Howarth, Peter Russell-Clarke, and Ben Shaffer.
This group will be given larger roles as part of the shift. But Williams decided that no one will be named the new leader and that the entire team will report to him. The move ties Apple’s operations group more closely to design — an agreement that has angered some of Apple’s creative staff. It will also highlight Williams, who is being considered a possible successor to Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook.
In addition to design, Williams oversees global operations, supply chain and AppleCare customer support, as well as software engineering for the watch and health efforts. Direct responsibility for hardware engineering for the Apple Watch was handed over to John Ternus, the company’s chief hardware engineer, a few months ago.
Howarth was briefly head of industrial design between 2015 and 2017 — while Ive scaled back his tenure after launching the original Apple Watch — but he’s struggled to lead a crew of former colleagues. Howarth, along with Andre, has been at Apple for almost three decades. Hankey, on the other hand, was with the company for around 20 years.
Apple refrained from hiring an outsider to fill the top spot. That move would have been “the death of the team,” a longtime member of the group told Bloomberg in November. It also didn’t want Dye to be in charge of either design group, which could have ruffled the feathers.
Still, the company could theoretically appoint a new head of industrial design — either inside or outside the company — if one day the right candidate emerges.
Most Read by Bloomberg Businessweek
©2023 Bloomberg LP
|TOI.NEWS Tech News||Click here|
Follow and Subscribe to Our YouTube, Instagram and Twitter – Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.
News & Image Credit – Click Here