Apple is losing its industrial design boss . . . again


By Jesus Diaz

Apple’s vice president of industrial design, Evans Hankey, is leaving the mothership only three years after taking over Jony Ive’s post, the company has confirmed. Apple hasn’t offered an official explanation for why Hankey is leaving such a coveted position, perhaps the hottest, most visible design job on the planet. But to my eyes, it doesn’t bode well for the company’s design vision, which was already in question after Ive left in 2019.


For decades, Ive was the Desi Arnaz to Steve Jobs’ Lucille Ball, and together they rebuilt Apple starting in 1997, making design the foundational spirit of the company, even if it meant compromising the engineering behind some of the brand’s most desired products. The duo’s extreme, obsessive design focus permeated every decision, from Apple’s hardware to its stores to the last word, comma, and period of the brand’s advertising copy.

But, when Cook—a Jobs loyalist with a talent for optimizing supply chains and squeeze every penny out of every possible revenue stream—took over, the Dieter Rams-driven dream appeared to sour. Design stopped mattering so much—or so the story goes, even while Cook has vehemently disputed that narrative calling it “completely absurd.” Ive left in 2019, leaving a bunch of problems behind, to form his own design practice, LoveFrom. At the time, he also signed a noncompetitive consultancy contract that felt engineered to calm the stock market, but even that lasted only a few years before Ive and Apple officially called it quits.

It’s fair to say that design was objectively downgraded in the Apple organizational chart after Ive left. It’s telling that Ive reported directly to Jobs, and had arguably the most power in the company. Hankey, on the other hand, reports to the COO, Jeff Williams—a clear demotion from the direct-to-CEO relationship Ive enjoyed with his BFF. Hankey didn’t even get Ive’s full job title, with the latter’s software design responsibilities passed to Alan Dye, who still remains in charge of Apple’s software look and feel, according to Bloomberg.

Apple is losing its industrial design boss . . . again

The possibility of Hankey commenting on why she’s leaving the Zeus throne in the pantheon of design is next to none. And Apple hasn’t said a word beyond the obligatory “the senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.” Nobody knows who will be taking the position next, but I suspect the line is already packed with candidates lusting to become the next design god. I have my doubts that this will ever happen with Cook directing. From the outside, it feels like Hankey was never given the opportunity to become the next Ive because Apple didn’t want a next Ive in the first place.

Fast Company