Jony Ive slips Apple’s golden handcuffs | Cult of Mac

Jony Ive slips Apple’s golden handcuffs

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Former Apple design chief Jony Ive talks up big ideas in his virtual commencement speech.
Jony Ive has ended his partnership with Apple, ending a very productive 30-year relationship.
Photo: Nick Knight

Jony Ive’s 30-year partnership with Apple is over.

Ive and Apple have reportedly severed ties completely, ending a relationship that spanned more than three decades and resulted in some of Apple’s biggest products, including the iPhone, iMac, Apple Watch, spaceship campus, numerous retail stores and much more.

Jony Ive and Apple: Teammates no more

Former Apple design chief Ive left the company in 2019 to form his own firm, LoveFrom. (Its name was inspired by Steve Jobs.)

“While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come,” Ive said at the time.

Cupertino slipped him a pair of golden handcuffs, paying him a rumored $100 million for a multiyear consultant contract — mostly to prevent him for working for competitors.

Apple was reportedly LoveFrom’s major client, with Ive consulting on the 24-inch iMac and the ongoing secret Apple car project, among other things.

But Ive and Apple recently decided not to renew the contract, according to The New York Times.

Why the breakup between Apple and LoveFrom?

Apple executives reportedly balked at Ive’s consultancy fees, and some became upset at the number of designers that left Apple to join LoveFrom. Ive reportedly hired at least four former Apple industrial designers to join him.

For his part, Ive reportedly wanted to be free to choose his own clients without getting permission from Apple. To date, Ive’s biggest client at LoveFrom has been Airbnb.

After Ive’s departure from Apple, the storied Industrial Design studio has been taken over by Evans Hankey, a longtime member of the design team. Alan Dye now leads software design. Apple COO Jeff Williams oversees both design teams.

End of an extremely productive partnership

The severance of the contract with Ive represents the end of one of the most productive design partnerships in modern history. His work with the company resulted in a string of hit products that saved Apple in the late 1990s and then made it one of the biggest companies in the world.

But Ive’s proudest achievement is the design team itself, he said.

“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” Ive told The Financial Times when he left in 2019.