Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer, is returning to his management role within Apple’s design group after handing off managerial duties in 2015. 9to5Mac noted that Ive’s design deputies Dye and Howarth were no longer listed on Apple’s leadership page earlier today, and news of Ive’s return broke from Bloomberg.
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From our story this morning:
Also of note, Apple’s Leadership webpage no longer lists Alan Dye, VP of user interface design, while VP of industrial design Richard Howarth is also no longer listed. We assume there has been no change of roles here, as Apple has not announced anything, but we’ve reached out to the company for clarity and will update when we hear back.
Bloomberg got confirmation on the record about Jony’s new role:
“With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said Friday in a statement.
Ive famously led Apple’s legendary design team on a day-to-day basis prior to July 1, 2015, but shifted his role two years ago amid Apple Park’s development. This was the original memo announcing the shift two years ago:
I have exciting news to share with you today. I am happy to announce that Jony Ive is being promoted to the newly created position of Chief Design Officer at Apple.
Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.
Design is one of the most important ways we communicate with our customers, and our reputation for world-class design differentiates Apple from every other company in the world. As Chief Design Officer, Jony will remain responsible for all of our design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives. On July 1, he will hand off his day-to-day managerial responsibilities of ID and UI to Richard Howarth, our new vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, our new vice president of User Interface Design.
Richard, Alan and Jony have been working together as colleagues and friends for many years. Richard has been a member of the Design team for two decades, and in that time he has been a key contributor to the design of each generation of iPhone, Mac, and practically every other Apple product. Alan started at Apple nine years ago on the Marcom team, and helped Jony build the UI team which collaborated with ID, Software Engineering and countless other groups on groundbreaking projects like iOS 7, iOS 8 and Apple Watch.
Please join me in congratulating these three exceptionally talented designers on their new roles at Apple.
At the time, it seemed certain that Apple was carefully preparing for Ive’s eventual retirement from the company. Dye and Howarth, who served as VPs of User Interface Design and Industrial Design, respectively, were presumably being groomed to be the face of Apple design post-Jony, but the duo received little public exposure following the initial announcement. No keynote slots and limited interviews.
Meanwhile, Jony Ive has remained in the spotlight at Apple, publicly discussing Apple’s new campus and appearing publicly to talk about the state of Apple design. 9to5Mac reported on a recent appearance at The New Yorker’s TechFest in October where Ive spoke about his history at Apple and the future of design.