Apple loses another designer who worked in Jony Ive's core team

Posted:
in General Discussion

Duncan Kerr, a designer who has been a part of Apple's journey since the late 1990s is now departing, marking another loss for the design team in a relatively short span of time.

Jony Ive
Jony Ive



In February, Apple lost designer Bart Andre, who had been with the company since 1992. He was Apple's longest-serving industrial designer.

On Wednesday, it was learned that Kerr would also be departing, though his plans are currently unknown. Kerr had worked at Apple since 1999 and was heavily involved in developing several generations of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

As Bloomberg points out, there aren't many of Ive's original team left. Since Ive's departure in 2019, designers Jody Akana, Anthony Ashcroft, Jeremy Bataillou, Joe Tan, Eugene Whang, and Andrea Williams have left the Cupertino-based company.

According to reports, there is a feeling of unease among employees due to the recent changes in leadership at Apple. Jeff Williams has taken over as the head of the design team and has allegedly introduced cost-cutting measures, which have caused some concern. In addition, there have been rumors that Apple has scaled back on its exploratory projects, which were a hallmark of previous design lead, Jony Ive.

However, some of these designers have been at Apple for more than 25 years. The recent departures are more likely about retirement more than dissatisfaction, given the ages of those involved.

For others, it may be greener pastures. Some of the core team have left to work for LoveFrom, Ive's new design company.

Currently, only a handful of Ive's original team are left at Apple. This includes Richard Howarth, Ben Schaffer, and Molly Anderson.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,906member
    I doubt it’s about retirement. 

    When you’re doing something you love snd something you’re good at, you want to do it forever - especially if you’re paid to do it!

    sounds like personnel conflict. Some “new” guy coming in snd “wrecking everything” isn't going to sit well. After a while, you get tired of it snd decide it’s no longer fun, no longer feels important and not worth it any longer. 

    Designers are some of the most passionate, opinionated, curious, and driven people on the planet. 

    When you kill the passion, don’t care about their discourse, limit exploration, and just hand out paint-by-numbers projects, you kill the drive. 

    Then you lose the designer. 

    Jeff Williams is not a design guy. Whoever appointed him in that role needs to be checked. Jeff is an ops guy. 

    Being that Apple lives and breathes by design, they’d better sort that out quick. 

    IVE ESTABLISHED AN AMAZING FRAMEWORK THST HAS NOT ONLY PROVEN SUCCESSFUL IN THE PAST SMD PRESENT, BUT IS BUILT ON TIMELESS PRINCIPLES WHICH WILL CONTINUE TO BLOSSOM IN THE FUTURE. 

    you break that and you’re in trouble. 

    The new iPad pro is a masterclass in design. Looks like something Ive would have done. Hopefully they don’t lose too many folks that are equipped with that kind of talent and vision. 
    iOS_Guy80Alex1Ngrandact73watto_cobrah2pelijahg
  • Reply 2 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,408moderator
    I doubt it’s about retirement. 

    When you’re doing something you love snd something you’re good at, you want to do it forever - especially if you’re paid to do it!
    Very few people want to be an employee forever, least of all people who are financially able to retire, when they could be spending their entire time on their own projects. Bart Andre retired:

    https://macdailynews.com/2024/02/14/apples-longest-serving-designer-bart-andre-retiring-from-company/

    Some have family that they want to spend more time with.

    Apple doesn't have many new design challenges left. The mobiles and wearables are all screens now. The laptops are nearly perfectly designed.

    They still need a strong design team for their newer products like Vision Pro but they will have trained a new generation of designers.
    Alex1NFileMakerFellerjellybellyjdwwatto_cobraget serious
  • Reply 3 of 15
    M68000M68000 Posts: 789member
    Marvin said:
    I doubt it’s about retirement. 

    When you’re doing something you love snd something you’re good at, you want to do it forever - especially if you’re paid to do it!
    Very few people want to be an employee forever, least of all people who are financially able to retire, when they could be spending their entire time on their own projects. Bart Andre retired:

    https://macdailynews.com/2024/02/14/apples-longest-serving-designer-bart-andre-retiring-from-company/

    Some have family that they want to spend more time with.

    Apple doesn't have many new design challenges left. The mobiles and wearables are all screens now. The laptops are nearly perfectly designed.

    They still need a strong design team for their newer products like Vision Pro but they will have trained a new generation of designers.
    With all due respect,  i tend to agree with comments from 9secondkox2.  To me,  Apple seems to be a bit different company with Jony gone.

    also,  you said “Apple does not have many new design challenges left”.  What ?    That does not sound good for future in Cupertino.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    I don’t think the particular individuals matter so much. New designers are a good thing and will inevitably happen. The concerning part is that a company built on great design apparently thinks cost cutting in the design department is a wonderful idea. That is worrisome. I’d also like to be hearing that there are lots of exploratory projects happening there. If the leadership believes they are just delivering widgets to consumers then Apple will gradually slip downward, and be indistinguishable from other tech companies. I’m hoping they are smarter than that. 
    michelb76FileMakerFellerthtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 15
    I doubt it’s about retirement. . 
    You take a lot on yourself.
    jellybellywatto_cobraget serious
  • Reply 6 of 15
    humbug1873humbug1873 Posts: 145member
    To be fully expected I guess. Remember the design team used to be lead by a guy that had the ear and fascination of a CEO that was inspired by good design and willing to go the extra mile to explore strange and new ideas. As a consequence lot of decisions where design-led and not based on technical need.
    Then Steve Jobs died and left the company in the hands of the bean counting penny pincher Tim Cook, who at first didn't dare to object Ive and also didn't really care about the product design. That's why at first Apple Design has gone crazy (butterfly keyboard) and by now has become rather stale and boring in the last few years. Case in point are AppleTV and Mac Studio .... that essentially just extended the height of the box making it look rather ugly or the MacBook Air design that finally succumbed to the operations pressure being put in a square box that is plain and boring. 
    That's probably why Ive eventually left. He lost his support in the company leadership and was bored with the new restrictions of the penny-pincher.
    I do remember the Apple days when everybody was scared, when Tim Cook showed up. Because it usually was followed by cost-cutting and lay offs in the 00's.

    So that's where we are at. Yeah Tim Cook managed the substance of the SJ Area well financially, but Apple totally lost it's edge.

    So yes old-time designers are leaving heading for greener pastures (and I also assume they no longer need to work for money anyways).
  • Reply 7 of 15
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,107member
    I doubt it’s about retirement.
    It is .....probably in his late forties mid fifties and worth millions.
    watto_cobraget serious
  • Reply 8 of 15
    thttht Posts: 5,548member
    Tim Cook, who at first didn't dare to object Ive and also didn't really care about the product design. That's why at first Apple Design has gone crazy (butterfly keyboard) and by now has become rather stale and boring in the last few years. Case in point are AppleTV and Mac Studio .... that essentially just extended the height of the box making it look rather ugly or the MacBook Air design that finally succumbed to the operations pressure being put in a square box that is plain and boring. 
    That's probably why Ive eventually left. He lost his support in the company leadership and was bored with the new restrictions of the penny-pincher. 
    People obviously have different perspectives on Jony Ive’s run as Chief Design Officer at Apple. 

    Overall, I think it was a net negative. The design group really needed someone to rein in their excesses. I think Apple finally realized that in 2017, and a lot of things were changed inside the company after that.

    Apple’s products have generally been better since then. The Apple Silicon MBP and M2 MBA models are the best designs they have done in a long time, if not the best. The design language for most of their products have all been improved. They haven’t done anything stupid. The weakest group remains the iPadOS UE/UI team though. 

    These retirements and departures from the design group really don’t mean anything, or you can’t really derive any conclusions from them. No one is indispensable, sometimes people just retire from the grind even from something they love, etc. 
    watto_cobralordjohnwhorfinfastasleepmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 15
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,390member
    Steve Jobs was remarked in a speech that "death is very likely the single best invention of life."  Naturally, he had no desire to die, but when he pondered things, he concluded that big change is often needed, and sometimes that big change doesn't happen until people or even generations die out.

    In the case of Apple, many are leaving Apple not due to death, but for other reasons.  But the reasons are largely irrelevant when we ponder the topic of CHANGE and consider its importance.  It is very Jobsian.  So while some may see a bleak future due to the OLD leaving Apple, Steve Jobs might actually see it differently.  And perhaps so should we.  Embracing change and getting a new generation of people designing at Apple isn't all dark and worrisome news, folks.
    thtwatto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 10 of 15
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 15,408moderator
    M68000 said:
    Marvin said:
    I doubt it’s about retirement. 

    When you’re doing something you love snd something you’re good at, you want to do it forever - especially if you’re paid to do it!
    Very few people want to be an employee forever, least of all people who are financially able to retire, when they could be spending their entire time on their own projects. Bart Andre retired:

    https://macdailynews.com/2024/02/14/apples-longest-serving-designer-bart-andre-retiring-from-company/

    Some have family that they want to spend more time with.

    Apple doesn't have many new design challenges left. The mobiles and wearables are all screens now. The laptops are nearly perfectly designed.

    They still need a strong design team for their newer products like Vision Pro but they will have trained a new generation of designers.
    “Apple does not have many new design challenges left”.  What ?    That does not sound good for future in Cupertino.
    It's a good thing, many products reach a pinnacle of design that doesn't need refined significantly. Here is the 2015 Macbook Pro:



    Here is the 2023 Macbook Pro:



    Subtle changes over 8 years and likely even less over another 8 years.

    iPad Pro 2018:



    iPad Pro 2024:



    Subtle changes over 6 years. Their products still sell in large numbers because people always needs replacement models eventually but none of the products that make up well over 90% of their product revenue need radically new designs, only some accessories and low volume products.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 15
    tht said:
    People obviously have different perspectives on Jony Ive’s run as Chief Design Officer at Apple. 

    Overall, I think it was a net negative. The design group really needed someone to rein in their excesses. I think Apple finally realized that in 2017, and a lot of things were changed inside the company after that.
    I could not agree more. Remember the introduction of the “sunflower” iMac and the ludicrous presentation where Jobs and Ive waxed poetic about “letting all the components be true to themselves”. Boy what a load.
    He was an influence for design over engineering, often resulting in products that are difficult or impossible to maintain, or have lousy characteristics (glue everywhere, poor cooling, inadequate battery life, lack of strength to name a few)
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 12 of 15
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    To be fully expected I guess. Remember the design team used to be lead by a guy that had the ear and fascination of a CEO that was inspired by good design and willing to go the extra mile to explore strange and new ideas. As a consequence lot of decisions where design-led and not based on technical need.
    Then Steve Jobs died and left the company in the hands of the bean counting penny pincher Tim Cook, who at first didn't dare to object Ive and also didn't really care about the product design. That's why at first Apple Design has gone crazy (butterfly keyboard) and by now has become rather stale and boring in the last few years. Case in point are AppleTV and Mac Studio .... that essentially just extended the height of the box making it look rather ugly or the MacBook Air design that finally succumbed to the operations pressure being put in a square box that is plain and boring. 
    That's probably why Ive eventually left. He lost his support in the company leadership and was bored with the new restrictions of the penny-pincher.
    I do remember the Apple days when everybody was scared, when Tim Cook showed up. Because it usually was followed by cost-cutting and lay offs in the 00's.

    So that's where we are at. Yeah Tim Cook managed the substance of the SJ Area well financially, but Apple totally lost it's edge.

    So yes old-time designers are leaving heading for greener pastures (and I also assume they no longer need to work for money anyways).
    Wow, that's a lot of speculation and projection based on your own assumptions (and taste, apparently). One could argue Ive and Jobs also enabled some of each others' worst impulses. There were plenty of misses under that combo. 

    Not sure how the Air looks boring to you, I think it's a perfect refinement of the product (are you suggesting there's something amazing about the wedge design of the previous era? Why?). The latest iPhones, iPads, MacBook Pros all are the best they've ever been. Contrast the current MacBook Pros with the thin last gen Intel designs which ran hot and necessitated the butterfly keyboard the you complain about. The Mac Studio is an extension of the Mac mini design that's been around since the Jobs era. What else does it need to not be "boring" to you? As Ive has always said, design is about how something works, not how it looks. Who gives a crap what the Apple TV box looks like?

    People make it sound like Ive designed products wholly by himself. In reality, he managed a team of industrial designers, all who made contributions. Additionally, they worked in tandem with a whole other team dedicated to input devices — which designed things like the butterfly keyboard. His deputy, Evans Hankey, was probably far more involved in day-to-day design choices than Ive later in his tenure, along with the rest of the design team. Strangely she's not mentioned in this article, and she just left last year. 

    Ive by all accounts was burned out and checked out, and wanted to do something else than iterating on consumer electronics for the later part of his career after where he had brought the hardware design over the years at Apple, which was almost three decades. He certainly could afford to leave and chase these kinds of projects with his buddy Marc Newson, so he did. 

    Tim Cook has been there since '98. He will forever be known as the person who scaled Apple to the behemoth that it is, able to manufacture the staggering numbers of devices they sell because ... guess what, people still love them and how they're designed.
    thtmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 15
    danox said:
    I doubt it’s about retirement.
    It is .....probably in his late forties mid fifties and worth millions.
    Probably Tens of Millions. If  you invested $1,000 in Apple stock 20 years ago, it would be worth almost $450,000 today. I'm sure he was participating in employee stock purchases and receiving restricted stock awards so I expect he's doing fine.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    danoxdanox Posts: 3,107member
    Marvin said:
    M68000 said:
    Marvin said:
    I doubt it’s about retirement. 

    When you’re doing something you love snd something you’re good at, you want to do it forever - especially if you’re paid to do it!
    Very few people want to be an employee forever, least of all people who are financially able to retire, when they could be spending their entire time on their own projects. Bart Andre retired:

    https://macdailynews.com/2024/02/14/apples-longest-serving-designer-bart-andre-retiring-from-company/

    Some have family that they want to spend more time with.

    Apple doesn't have many new design challenges left. The mobiles and wearables are all screens now. The laptops are nearly perfectly designed.

    They still need a strong design team for their newer products like Vision Pro but they will have trained a new generation of designers.
    “Apple does not have many new design challenges left”.  What ?    That does not sound good for future in Cupertino.
    It's a good thing, many products reach a pinnacle of design that doesn't need refined significantly. Here is the 2015 Macbook Pro:



    Here is the 2023 Macbook Pro:



    Subtle changes over 8 years and likely even less over another 8 years.

    iPad Pro 2018:



    iPad Pro 2024:



    Subtle changes over 6 years. Their products still sell in large numbers because people always needs replacement models eventually but none of the products that make up well over 90% of their product revenue need radically new designs, only some accessories and low volume products.
    It's called iteration, many however think Apple should throw an existing design completely out the window for a new one like a Ford Mustang or a GM Corvette both of whom have over the years started over many times from ground zero instead of improving an existing design over time like a Porsche 911.

    iPad OS is fine and getting better like the hardware, if you don't like it there is a marketplace choice a Samsung Galaxy Tab with Android OS running Chrome and it will phone home.
    tht
  • Reply 15 of 15
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,920member
    Apple is fine with design team on hand and new recruits in future. Isn't Jony Ive's was with Apple when Macbook Pros had keyboard and touch strip fiasco ?
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