Apple’s primary successor for Jony Ive is stepping down. Evans Hankey, the company’s industrial design leader, is leaving after three years, according to Bloomberg. As of this writing, no successor has been identified, although Hankey will apparently continue in her post for six months as part of a transition. Alan Dye, who took over as head of software design from Ive in 2019, will remain in his position.
The shuffle may not be entirely bad. According to Bloomberg, Gary Butcher, one of Dye’s previous top designers and now Airbnb’s design VP, is returning to Apple. It’s unclear what duties Butcher will have when he returns.
According to a Bloomberg statement, Apple’s design section has “strong executives with decades of expertise” and generates products that are “undeniably” emblematic of the firm. There is no reason for Hankey’s departure.
Hankey faced a lot of pressure when she took over. Ive created several of Apple’s most recognizable hardware designs, including the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. While it’s unclear how much Hankey has influenced product design (Ive just recently split ways), she has supervised a mix of well-received reworks and modest evolutions over her tenure. The business discontinued the divisive butterfly keyboard-era MacBooks in favor of more practical versions, and it debuted a few substantial redesigns, including the iMac M1. At the same time, prudence has been the rule of the day — witness an Apple Watch that, with the exception of the Ultra, hasn’t altered much since 2018.
This does not necessarily portend disaster for Apple. It does, however, present the possibility of a design direction shift, especially for items in unknown areas. The company is reported to be working on a mixed-reality headset, augmented-reality glasses, and perhaps an electric automobile. Although Hankey’s influence may still be felt with significant debuts, there’s a possibility her successor may give those products a fresh twist.