The lead designer of the original iPhone is leaving Apple

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The original iPhone was one of the best looking iPhones.
The original iPhone was one of the best-looking iPhones.
Photo: Apple

One of the top Apple product designers of the past two decades is parting ways with the company, according to a new report that reveals there’s been a big shake-up on Jony Ive’s team.

Christopher Stringer was the lead designer of the original iPhone and was one of the top two or three designers on Apple’s industrial design team. Now he has apparently decided to jettison from the company right before Apple moves into its new spaceship.

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.

In Court: Maniacal Apple Designers Around The Kitchen Table

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Apple attorney Harold McElhinny questions Apple designer Christopher Stringer in this court sketch during a high profile trial between Samsung and Apple in San Jose

In the first day of actual testimony today, US District Court got to hear from the first expert witness, Christopher Stringer, a long-time Apple designer who worked on the original iPhone designs. His testimony described Apple’s design team as a group of 16 “maniacal individuals” who spent a lot of their time around a kitchen table, brainstorming new products.

Stringer wore an off-white suite and narrow black tie to testify, an outfit to complement his long hair and salt-and-pepper beard. He told the jury, “Our role is to imagine products that don’t exist and guide them to life.”

The process they use is unique, and includes a kitchen table.