Evans Hankey, Apple’s departing vice president of industrial design, will not be replaced when she departs later this year. A new report claims that the company’s operations manager Jeff Williams will be solely responsible for Apple’s product design team.
Apple will not be naming a new top product designer
After Jony Ive left Apple in 2019, Hankey took over as the company’s de facto design leader and reported to Williams. According to the report, Apple may decide to employ a new industrial design leader in the future, but as of right now, the tech giant has no such intentions to do so.
As reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, Apple “has decided against naming a new executive to replace its departing top product designer, marking a stark shift for a company long celebrated for the look and feel of its devices.” It is possible that Apple made this decision because it was simply unable to find a suitable replacement for Hankey.
The tech giant intends to offer important product designers wider positions within the company, but some employees are irritated by the new arrangement. The story also states that Alan Dye will continue to oversee Apple’s software development team.
Hankey’s departure from Apple was confirmed in October 2022 in a statement shared with Bloomberg. “Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple,” the statement said. “The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”
According to Gurman, a significant portion of Apple’s design team has left the company, and closer integration of Apple’s operations division with design has irritated some of Apple’s creative personnel.
The look and feel of Apple’s products may be impacted by the move away from a creative role to designers who report to the COO because design choices are likely to be influenced more by manufacturing, production, and cost factors than by the confluence of aesthetics and utility Apple has a history of being well-known for.