Apple today announced that Sir Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, will depart the company as an employee later this year to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.
And with those words, the Internet went insane. I can understand how people feel about Jony’s announcement—he’s an icon in the design world and helped make some of Apple’s most iconic products. He will be missed, but I think this has been a long time coming.
The way this announcement was made is one of the most skilled plays that Apple has done in a long time. They got the news out but limited the effects by keeping a connection with Jony.
A few years ago, Jony moved away from product design to focus solely on Apple Park. I think Jony has wanted to work on other projects for a while now, but Apple needed to keep him where he was. To make that happen, the company did whatever needed to be done.
Apple hired his friend Marc Newson, who is opening the new company with Jony. They elevated Jony’s position to Chief Design Officer, a position that Apple has never had before. I think Apple did everything they could to keep Jony a part of Apple, but ultimately his desire to work on other projects became too much for him to ignore.
With Apple as a client of LoveFrom, Jony gets to keep his finger on the pulse of what the company is doing, and can continue to help direct design decisions moving forward. More importantly, it gives Jony the freedom he has been seeking to work on other projects.
For Apple, being a client of LoveFrom gives them the tie with Jony that it needs.
The news of Jony leaving Apple would have been devastating a decade ago—today, I think, we kind of saw the writing on the wall. It’s still not the best news I’ve heard, but I think Apple and Jony reached an agreement that allowed both to get what they needed moving forward.