Apple loses three core members of small industrial design team

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2019
Three members of Apple's vaunted industrial design team have departed or are planning to depart the company, taking with them decades of combined experience in creating some of the world's most iconic products.

iPhone


Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports Rico Zorkendorfer and Daniele De Iuliis recently left Apple, while Julian Hnig plans to leave in the coming months. Together, the three designers have nearly 50 years of experience at the tech giant.

Zorkendorfer in a statement said he is taking a break from professional life to spend more time with his family, adding that he felt privileged to be part of Apple's design team. He noted that Apple is in good hands, pointing to the fresh blood that will work under CDO Jony Ive.

"We have incredible new designers -- a new generation," Zorkendorfer said. "What we've been able to do the last few decades will continue. The talent is there."

De Iuliis did not respond to a request for comment, while Hnig declined to issue a statement on his reported departure.

According to the report, the team is slowly disbanding after the success of products like iPhone afforded comfortable lives and relatively secure futures. In 2016, Danny Coster left for GoPro after 23 years of service, while prominent ID group figure Christopher Stringer departed in 2017 after 21 years on the job. Stringer is named on numerous breakthrough design patents, many of which involve aspects of iPhone.

As veterans depart, new hires from Nike, independent studios and design schools will be given more responsibility in the development of new product lines, the report said.

As noted by the WSJ, the turnover at Apple's core design team coincides with the company's newly placed emphasis on digital services. The team that dreamed up iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch designs under Ive most has experienced a slowdown in important new devices over the past few years. The most recent memorable releases to come out of Apple's ID group were AirPods in 2016 and HomePod in 2017.

Beyond evolutionary updates to existing product lines like iPhone, iPad and Mac, Apple's designers are rumored to be hard at work on a variety of devices. Likely to debut first is an augmented reality headset that could be unveiled in 2020.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    shevshev Posts: 84member
    so that explains the renders of the back of the new iPhone  :# :s
    cornchipMisterKithammeroftruthmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 69
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    You can't swing a dead cat and fail to hit 5 industrial designers.  

    This isn't like losing a bigwig in microprocessor design. 

    cornchipSpamSandwichMisterKit
  • Reply 3 of 69
    Wow they sound really ‘caucasian’. Hopefully some POC can replace them. 
    lbarry74
  • Reply 4 of 69
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    You can't swing a dead cat and fail to hit 5 industrial designers.  

    This isn't like losing a bigwig in microprocessor design. 

    But it’s Apple and some have the impression industrial designers are gods at Apple. One of the guys leaving started before Jony Ive so he’s pushing 30 years. That’s an unusually long time for someone to be at one company.
    chasmracerhomie3cornchipmdriftmeyermichelb76
  • Reply 5 of 69
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,548member
    No worry. At this time, Apple has deep bench of industrial designers including Jony Ive still there at the helm.
    edited April 2019 chasmStrangeDaysracerhomie3
  • Reply 6 of 69
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,735member
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    hmurchisonMisterKitnubusmuthuk_vanalingam13485
  • Reply 7 of 69
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    Isn’t the smartphone, like the laptop, now a solved design? Other than gimmicks like folding phones what can be done that’s groundbreaking? Does anything really need to be done with the smartphone?
    hmurchisonchasmracerhomie3radarthekatgareth2210jony0
  • Reply 8 of 69
    rbelize said:
    Wow they sound really ‘caucasian’. Hopefully some POC can replace them. 
    Wow that sounds really “racist.”

    if caucasians gave us Apples stellar design, I’m all for more of that. 

    Not to the exclusion of orher ethnicities, but “caucasians” should t lose out on replacing other caucasians just because their skin is too similar. That whole bit is unfair and its been played out. Next. 


    mac_dogDAalsethracerhomie3cornchipradarthekatred oakpscooter63fotoformatcat52bonobob
  • Reply 9 of 69
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    Isn’t the smartphone, like the laptop, now a solved design? Other than gimmicks like folding phones what can be done that’s groundbreaking? Does anything really need to be done with the smartphone?
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    Isn’t the smartphone, like the laptop, now a solved design? Other than gimmicks like folding phones what can be done that’s groundbreaking? Does anything really need to be done with the smartphone?
    The wheel is still a wheel. There is no better design to do what it does. There are various ways to design a wheel but it still fundamentally looks like a wheel. 

    Same with laptops and smartphones. The greatness of apples designs is that they still look New Years down the road. No need to change perfection just for the sake of change. 

    dysamoriaracerhomie3cornchippscooter63cat52cgWerks
  • Reply 10 of 69
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,833member
    Maybe new blood is what is needed. I'm disenchanted with the lack of movement in non-Pro and non-iLife Mac software, particularly key apps like Finder and System Preferences. SysPref is an embarrassment with how slow it is, even on fast Macs.
    hmurchisonanantksundaramMisterKitnubusSoundJudgment
  • Reply 11 of 69
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,396member
    "new blood" are people who've been on the team 10 years or less.

    Take the statement at face value. They enjoyed working there, they did great work, Apple has a deep bench of solid designers, but they're old and rich now and have put decades in at Apple and are doing exactly what they should be doing: retiring after passing on their wisdom to the next batch.
    fastasleepradarthekatpscooter63cgWerksh2p
  • Reply 12 of 69
    mike54mike54 Posts: 470member
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    I agree but I don't blame the designers/engineers solely for that. The decision largely lies with management direction led by Tim Cook and other department heads.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 13 of 69
    ivanhivanh Posts: 591member
    Together, 100 apples need 100 years to grow? 
    The article should say 50 man-years, not 50 years.
    besides, 49 years of experience might have been depleted and written off already.
  • Reply 14 of 69
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    rbelize said:
    Wow they sound really ‘caucasian’. Hopefully some POC can replace them. 
    If you want your phone to look more bling, just go buy some cheap looking case with some fake diamonds on it or something.

    cornchipcat52
  • Reply 15 of 69
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,594member
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    Hate to break it to ya, but you aren’t going to see any “groundbreaking” changes to the form factor of the smartphone. It’s a slab of glass. The end. 

    iMac is excellent, and as classic as they come. It’s like the Coke bottle. As Apple has said, they don’t do change for change’s sake. Their design ethos simply isn’t meant to entertain bored forum-goers. 
    edited April 2019 macpluspluscornchipcat52bonobobgareth2210roundaboutnowexceptionhandler
  • Reply 16 of 69
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    It won’t affect anything unless these designers are actually the decision-makers. Sounds like that’s mostly Jony Ive. The thin-obsession is coming from the decision-makers (the execution may come from the people under them).
    cornchipcgWerks
  • Reply 17 of 69
    rbelize said:
    Wow they sound really ‘caucasian’. Hopefully some POC can replace them. 
    I think one of the new hires is Oprah.
    badmonk
  • Reply 18 of 69
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    DAalseth said:
    I have all due respect for them. They have designed some great products. 
    HOWEVER
    IMO Apple’s designs are a bit stale. The iMac is essentially unchanged in ages. The Mac Mini is the same. The phone has gone through iterations but “thinner” isn’t really a groundbreaking design concept. I’m glad to see the team will be getting some new blood. 
    Isn’t the smartphone, like the laptop, now a solved design? Other than gimmicks like folding phones what can be done that’s groundbreaking? Does anything really need to be done with the smartphone?
    Pretty much this or iPhones and iPads.  Once you've distilled the design down to essential a bezel free screen you're only differentiation comes from the amalgamation of different materials. 

    The biggest opportunity for breaking new design ground may come from the module Mac Pro.  We are no longer encumbered with optical drives or even 2.5/3.5 drives.  The latitude in which a designer has to create design that simply doesn't exist today is as wide as it has ever been. 
  • Reply 19 of 69
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,696member
    shev said:
    so that explains the renders of the back of the new iPhone  :# :s
    No it doesn't.
  • Reply 20 of 69
    jdwjdw Posts: 993member
    You mean the trio who removed the SD card slot, good keyboard, MagSafe, USB-A, and the glowing Apple logo from MacBooks labeled "Pro"?

    Good riddance!
    MisterKitpscooter63
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