Bloomberg – Apple’s product design team has seen an increase in turnover over the past few years, hampering efforts to replace its former design director Jony Ive, according to a report by Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman. Apple has lost most of the senior designers who worked under Jony Ive, many of whom jumped ship to his new design firm LoveFrom, which Jony Ive started after leaving Apple in 2019, the report said.
At least 15 senior Apple designers have left the company since Jony Ive went part-time in 2015, with even less turnover between 2000 and 2015, according to the report. Only a “small number” of senior designers from the Jony Ive era are said to be still around.
Apple confirmed that its vice president of industrial design Evans Hankey plans to leave the company next year, though the report said she has no plans to join LoveFrom at this time. Evans Hankey has been Apple’s de facto design chief since Jony Ive left, reporting to Apple’s head of operations Jeff Williams.
Even before Jony Ive’s departure, Apple’s operations department had begun to exert more influence over the design team, resulting in an increased “focus on cost” rather than “purely on looks and functionality,” according to the report.
“The strength of the team was that we were a core that was tied together by an incredible environment and a fairly unconventional way of doing things,” said one longtime Apple designer, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s a special team. After Steve’s death, it wasn’t easy to maintain — things started to get more complicated. There was more pressure and outside distractions.”
The report goes on to talk about potential successors to lead Apple’s design team, from senior industrial designer Richard Howarth to software design chief Alan Dye to outside hires. Apple said Evans Hankey plans to stay on during the transition.
“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to create undeniably great Apple products,” an Apple spokeswoman said last month in response to Evans Hankey’s planned departure. “The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience, and Evans Hankey plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we want to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”