Jony Ive, one of the world’s foremost designers, is leaving Apple after nearly three decades later this year to start an independent design firm.
Ive will, however, continue working with Apple from the outside — his new venture, called LoveFrom, will count the iPhone maker as a client. Marc Newson, another famed designer, is joining LoveFrom as well.
“While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come,” Ive told the Financial Times in an interview that published at the same time as Apple’s official announcement. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”
In a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook called Ive “a singular figure in the design world.”
“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,” Cook said. “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.”
Ive has long been considered a key creative force behind Apple’s overall design philosophy, working on everything from the iPhone to the company’s futuristic new headquarters, officially called Apple Park but nicknamed “The Spaceship.” His departure will come as a shock to some, though whispers of his impending departure have ebbed and flowed for years.
Apple’s challenge will now be convincing investors, fans and the world at large that it can forge ahead without a creative force who, alongside the late Steve Jobs and Cook, is credited with the company’s resurrection and cultural dominance. Apple’s stock fell about 1% in after-hours trading following the news of Ive’s departure.
Some, however, may welcome the shakeup given some of the company’s controversial design choices in recent years. The previous generation of the Mac Pro, while a bold effort, was largely seen as a flop, the wireless Magic Mouse 2 can’t be used while it’s charging, and some of the company’s MacBook keyboards are suffering from glitches thought to be related to their unique design.
With Ive on the way out, Apple’s Evans Hankey and Alan Dye, vice president of industrial design and vice president of human interface design, respectively, will report to COO Jeff Williams, who’s taken point on the Apple Watch.