Apple Loses Design Muse Jony Ive

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Apple has announced its chief design officer Jony Ive is signing off.  Ive is considered one of Apple’s most important creative voices — and the team member most associated with the industrial design and feel of every major Apple product from nearly the last two decades, including the iPhone and iMac, according to CNBC.

Ive is reportedly striking out to start his own design firm — LoveFrom — with designer and longtime friend Marc Newson.  Apple will be a client, Apple has confirmed.

“While I will not be an employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come. This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” Ive told The Financial Times.

Though Ive will remain involved, his exit will be felt day-to-day within the firm.  Apple CEO Tim Cook released a statement noting the degree to which Ive will be missed.

“Jony is a singular figure in the design world, and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated — from 1998′s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” Cook noted.

Evans Hankey, vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design, will assume additional design responsibilities within Apple — but for the time being, Ive will have no immediate successor within the firm. Dye and Hankey will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. That is also a change of pace, as Ive reported to Apple CEO Tim Cook directly.

Ive’s departure comes after a five year full-press effort on the creation and construction of Apple Park, the $5 billion structure Apple created to house its Cupertino headquarters.  Apple Park has been officially open for a month; its opening was kicked off with a concert.

“There were some significant projects that I feel like I’ve completed. For example, Apple Park — this was a project that started in 2004 … A couple of weeks ago we had our official opening of the Park. That was a really significant project, that was unlike many of our others, because it was for us,” Ive told The Financial Times.

Investors were a bit nervous about the announced departure — Apple’s stock dropped 1 percent on the news.