Apple's legendary designer Jonathan "Jony" Ive has been promoted to the position of chief design officer at the company, a move first revealed by Ive during an interview with Stephen Fry for the British newspaper The Telegraph.
Ive, who had previously served as Apple's senior vice president of design, also revealed Richard Howarth, a fellow Brit, will serve as the company's head of industrial design, while Alan Dye, an American, will take the post of head of user interface.
On July 1, Ive will hand off day-to-day managerial responsibilities of industrial design and user interface to Howarth and Dye.
"Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released," Ive said in the interview. "Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch's operating system came from him."
The Telegraph interview also features photos of Fry, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Ive standing atop a hill with the construction site for the company's massive, spaceship-like headquarters under construction in the background.
As with all things involving Apple, the Ive promotion is generating speculations as to what this all means to the company.
With Apple's chief designer freed from the daily administrative duties that defined his role in the past, it's unclear whether Ive's focus will remain on specific product designs or if he will serve as a more general guiding hand. With Fry noting that the promotion will allow Ive to "think more freely," perhaps Ive could use his position take a more prominent role in the design of Apple stores around the world.
An email from Cook to Apple employees officially announcing the Ive promotion was obtained by Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac, where Cook calls Ive "one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation," with an "astonishing" 5,000 design and utility patents to his credit.
"Design is one of the most important ways we communicate with our customers, and our reputation for world-class design differentiates Apple from every other company in the world," Cook wrote. "As Chief Design Officer, Jony will remain responsible for all of our design, focusing entirely on current design projects, new ideas and future initiatives."
The winner of numerous awards, including World's Smartest Designer by Forbes magazine and the National Design award, Ive has helped design the iMac, the MacBook, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad among numerous other products, including some of the furniture on the company's campus.
"Jony's design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company," Cook's memo stated.
Born in England, Ive was honored by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 as a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE) for "services to design and enterprise."
The KBE marked the second time Ive has been honored by the British, following his recognition as a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005.
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The designer was recently featured in a lengthy profile in The New Yorker, which called Ive "Apple's greatest product" and delved into his history at Apple, his views on design, and his relationship with the late company co-founder Steve Jobs.
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