Apple reportedly axes the position of design chief in major company shift

Ever since Steve Jobs rolled out the iMac to a captive audience in 1998, Apple’s head of hardware design has been one of the most prestigious and important roles at the company. Now in a major policy shift, Apple won’t be naming a new design czar to replace Evans Hankey, who has held the position since 2019.

According to a Bloomberg report, a “core group of about 20 industrial designers” will now report to chief operating officer Jeff Williams, who has been with the company since 1998. According to Apple’s leadership page, Williams “played a key role in Apple’s entry into the mobile phone market with the launch of iPhone, and since 2010 has led worldwide operations for all products.” He currently leads Apple’s design team and the software and hardware engineering for Apple Watch and presumably had a major hand in the design of the Apple Watch Ultra.

Design guru Jony Ive, who is responsible for some of Apple’s most iconic devices (including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod), left the company in 2019 to pursue his own design firm, LoveFrom. Most recently, Ive collaborated with U.K. charity Comic Relief to design a special-edition folded paper red nose.

It’s not clear how or if this changes Apple’s design ethos, but it’s a clear shift for the company. Following Ive, Hankey held the position of head of hardware design during the years when Apple released a redesigned iMac, MacBook Pro MacBook Air, as well as the Mac Studio and Studio Display. She also presumably had a major hand in the design of Apple’s upcoming AR headset.  


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