On Thursday, Apple announced that design chief Jony Ive was departing as an employee of Apple after almost 30 years with the company, during which he spearheaded the design for iconic products ranging from the iMac to the iPhone. It doesn’t appear to have been a hostile departure, as Apple’s official press release states that Ive is forming an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.” Technically we’re not yet looking at a totally Jony Ive-free Apple, but it’s easy to get the impression that we might as well be.
No longer will Ive be one of the main wizards behind Apple’s curtains. As parody account @JonyIveParody shows, Ive tends to be Apple’s public face more than Apple CEO Tim Cook himself. With any other company, claiming that one person’s departure could radically change a company might feel like a stretch, but we’ve long known that Apple plays by different rules. With Ive’s departure, Apple finds itself facing its biggest test since Steve Jobs passed away in 2011.
You could always find some misses in Ive’s work, but his design philosophy helped create an aesthetic that was immediately recognizable as “Apple.” Core elements of Ive’s design sensitivity are so familiar that it’s easy to poke fun at them, whether it’s the focus on aluminum, the rounded corners, or the smooth, near-buttonless edges of devices like the Magic Mouse. Virtually all of the products we know and love from Apple’s renaissance—roughly 1997 until today—have Ive’s mind behind them on some level.
Rarely was his work about fluff for the sake of fluff. His design philosophy worked so well because there was always utility stirred in with the beauty. Some of us may complain about the power of a device like the iMac, but there’s little question that such an all-in-one machine looks fantastic when it’s propped on a design studio’s maple…