One of Apple’s chief designers, Evans Hankey, is to leave the firm, three years after the depature of Sir Jony Ive
Apple is to undergo another shakeup among its design team, with the news of a high level departure.
Noted Apple leaker Mark Gruman reported on Bloomberg News, citing people with knowledge of the matter, that vice president for industrial design Evans Hankey is to leave the iPhone maker.
According to the report, Hankey’s departure was announced inside the firm, and Hankey reportedly told her work colleagues that she will remain at Apple for the next six months.
The Gruman/Bloomberg report also noted that a replacement has not been named so far.
It is reported that one possible candidate to assume the position is Richard Howarth, who briefly had the role of industrial design VP from 2015-2017, at the same time as when legendary Apple designer Sir Jony Ive was ‘promoted’ to Chief Design Officer.
The departure of Hankey is notable, as she took over leading Apple’s design in 2019, alongside software design chief Alan Dye, after the departure of Jony Ive in late 2019.
Hankey oversaw industrial design, and during her tenure Apple launched the iPhone 12, iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 models, as well as the M1 MacBooks.
It is understood that Hankey worked under Jony Ive and eventually became a design team leader, officially taking the top job of industrial design VP upon Ive’s departure.
Apple reportedly thanked Evans for her contributions to the company and confirmed she plans to stay on for a period of transition.
“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple,” a spokesman was quoted as saying in a statement.
“The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience,” the spokesman added. “Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”
Operations, not design
Hankey’s departures as Apple is secretly developing a number of new devices, including an augmented reality headset, and even the long-mooted electric car (formerly known as Project Titan).
Her departure also raises concern that Apple is relegating design executives at the firm, after it was noted that Apple’s leadership page has not showcased a single design executive since Sir Jony Ive left the company.
Indeed critics of CEO Tim Cook point out he has repeatedly put operations executives in charge of key decisions, thereby diminishing the contributions of the design group.
Sir Jony Ive
There was shock three years ago when Sir Jony announced in June 2019 he was leaving Apple to form his own design company called LoveForm.
Reports at the time had suggested Sir Jony had spent his final years distancing himself from Apple, with his last major design contribution (other than its new HQ) being the Apple Watch, introduced back in 2015.
Sir Jony had moved to the US (from the UK) in 1992 to work for Apple as their chief designer.
Sir Jony gained complete design control when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 (Apple was back then in very poor financial health), and he headed the Industrial Design team responsible for most of the company’s significant hardware products, including the iMac in 1998, and the iPod in 2001.
He was also responsible for the design of the iPod Mini (2004); the iPhone (2007); the Macbook Air (2008); the iPad (2010); Apple Watch (2015); and AirPods (2016).
One of his last projects was finishing Apple’s new corporate headquarters, Apple Park.
In 2005 he was named as one of Britain’s most influential expatriates by the Sunday Times, and in 2012 he was knighted by the late Queen.
Sir Jony’s contribution to Apple’s revival could not be overstated, and the British designer was described by Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, as his spiritual partner at the firm.
Sir Jony provided vital continuity for Apple’s strategic vision after the death of Steve Jobs, aged 56 in October 2011 following his eight year battle with pancreatic cancer.
At one stage Sir Jonathan was even being mooted as the next CEO of Apple.
The death of Jobs however did have a lasting impact on Sir Jony and in 2011 it was reported that he was at “loggerheads” with the company’s board, over his wish to move back to the UK.