Apple Names Jony Ive ‘Chief Design Officer’

Apple’s Jony Ive, the design genius often credited for Apple’s innovative and unique industrial design language over the past couple of decades, has taken on a new role at the company: Chief Design Officer. The new role elevates him above his previous SVP status, and also installs Richard Howarth as the new head of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye as head of User Interface.

Ive’s new role should actually give him more time to actually design, the newly minted C-level executive told the Telegraph. He’s shedding some administrative and management duties to his two new lieutenants, he told the newspaper, and will instead be in charge of both UI and ID, as well as take direct control over retail store design around the world.

In a book detailing Ive’s life and work at Apple, Leander Kahney has noted that the British designer has sometimes been uncomfortable with the administrative side of business, and instead prefers to focus on the craft of the actual design process. Ive also notably remains off-stage during Apple’s signature press events, and instead often narrates passionate paeans the company offers during the show in the form of video on the process of designing the products announced by other execs at the events.

Ive told the Telegraph that he’ll now be able to travel more easily, spending time at important Apple locations beyond the secretive Cupertino lab where Apple tests and refines the look and feel of its products. One such destination is Campus 2, the site of ongoing construction on its ambitious new headquarters, often described in the press as the company’s grounded “spaceship.” Ive is deeply involved in said project.

Howarth, the new VP of Industrial Design, has worked with Ive over the past two decades, and was a key member of the teams behind the design of each new iPhone and Mac in that time. Dye originally worked in marketing and communications at Apple, but moved over to Ive’s team to help when he took over more responsibilities on the side of user interface design with the software team, especially after Scott Forstall’s departure and the advent of iOS 7. Dye was a key member of the team that built the Apple Watch’s user interface, and was profiled in that role by Wired prior to the launch of that device.

If anything, both the Telegraph’s interview and an internal memo to employees secured by 9to5Mac indicated this will expand Ive’s control over Apple’s actual design language, in all facets of the company. Dye and Howarth will likely free up time that might have otherwise been spent with parts of the job not related to actually creating things, which must have represented a non-trivial portion of Ive’s role at this stage in Apple’s growth.

Apple provided the following statement to TechCrunch regarding the role change:

We are thrilled to announce that Jony Ive has been promoted to the newly created position of Chief Design Officer at Apple. In this new role, he will focus entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives. Jony’s day-to-day managerial responsibilities will be handed off to his longtime collaborators Richard Howarth, VP of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, VP of User Interface Design.