How Apple’s super-secret Industrial Design team really works

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Apple's Industrial Design team at the Apple Watch unveiling.
Apple's Industrial Design team at the Apple Watch unveiling.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

This feature is adapted from my book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products. It offers a rare look inside one of Apple’s most secretive institutions: the Industrial Design studio.

Where do Apple’s great products come from?

For the last 18 years — since Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 — most of them have come out of Apple’s Industrial Design studio, a small and secretive group of creatives headed up by celebrated British designer Sir Jony Ive.

Everything we know about Richard Howarth, Apple’s new ‘badass’ head of industrial design

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Richard Howarth is the new head of Apple's legendary Industrial Design studio.
Richard Howarth is the new head of Apple's legendary Industrial Design studio.
Photo: Facebook

This is Richard Howarth, Apple’s newly appointed vice president of industrial design, and the man who has to fill Jony Ive’s (calf-leather) shoes.

Ive has been promoted to chief design officer to do more “blue sky thinking,” leaving Howarth to run the legendary Industrial Design studio that has been Apple’s ideas factory and product foundry for more than two decades.

Howarth is no stranger to the studio. He’s worked there for 20 years, heading up the design of the iPod, iPhone and a string of MacBooks, among many other products. He’s African-born, London-educated and has been Ive’s second-in-command for some time, earning a reputation among colleagues as a “badass.”

Here’s the first group picture of Apple’s new Industrial Design team

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Apple's Industrial Design team at the Apple Watch unveiling.
Apple's Industrial Design team is spotted after the Apple Watch unveiling. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

CUPERTINO, Calif. — This is the first group photo of Apple’s new Industrial Design team — the men and women behind the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and a long string of other hit products.

The group is super-secretive and rarely appears in public together. In fact, they’ve only been pictured once before. This picture was taken at the end of Tuesday’s launch event, when many of the journalists had been ushered out. In the middle is Jony Ive and the team’s latest and highest-profile hire, star designer Marc Newson.

The Industrial Design team is Apple’s idea factory. This is where Apple’s innovation comes from. They design and develop all of Apple’s products, and many of them were working at Apple before Steve Jobs returned in 1997.