Jony Ive’s Small Industrial Design Team at Apple Loses Three Core Members

Three Apple industrial designers will have recently left the secretive, two-dozen member team led by design chief Jony Ive responsible for the iPhone’s design.

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Jony Ive’s renowned industrial design team at Apple is losing three longtime members as the Cupertino tech giant shifts much of its focus from hardware to new subscription services.

Daniele De Iuliis and Rico Zorkendorfer have been at the company the longest, with the pair squaring up to 35 years at Apple combined — they’ve both recently left the company. Meanwhile, another member of the team, Julian Hönig, has been with Apple for 10 years and will be leaving in the coming months, reads the report.

The trio was part of the core design team that helped Apple launch into a new era of mobile devices with the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. The industrial design team, known simply as “ID” within Apple, only has about two-dozen members, the Journal noted, but enjoys an outsized reputation within the company.

Above Avalon analyst, Neil Cybart, who spoke to the Wall Street Journal, says it makes sense for the team’s membership to shift as Apple develops new products.

“This group is all-powerful in Apple,” he said. “Industrial designers have the final say over the user experience found with Apple devices, and they really do work like a family in a way. No one would argue, though, that new blood is a bad thing.”

There have reportedly only been “a few” departures from the ID team over the last decade or so, so the fact it’s losing three team members within a short period of time is certainly newsworthy in its own right. But especially because the Jony Ive-led team is notoriously close-knit, and has been helping build up Apple’s success with new iPhone designs over the years.

“Mr. Jobs put the design group at the nexus of Apple’s product development process and lavished attention on the team, visiting it almost daily to see its latest work on new products,” reads the report. “The combination of the ID team’s elevated status inside Apple and Mr. Jobs’s treatment helped create a group that worked and socialized together, becoming so tight that only a few members of the team left in more than a decade, according to some of these people.”

Zorkendorfer says there are “incredible new designers” at Apple. “What we’ve been able to do the last few decades will continue,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

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