Apple’s Longest-Serving Designer Bart Andre Said to Depart Company, Adding to Exodus

Feb14,2024



Apple Inc. ’s longest-serving senior industrial designer is leaving the company, marking an almost complete turnover of the Jony Ive-led team. Bart Andre, who joined Apple with Ive in 1992, told colleagues this month he was retiring, according to people familiar with the matter. Andre Ive was one of the last remaining designers of the era and helped create the aesthetic for Apple products released over the past three decades — even before Steve Jobs returned to the helm in the late 1990s. .

The designer was known as one of Ive's top lieutenants and helped run the team after Ive's successor, former chief Evans Hankey, left last year. He is also known as one of the largest holders of Apple patents.

“His imprint on Apple products is indelible – I see him in the details every day,” said Christopher Stringer, who previously worked with Andre at Apple and now runs the sound company Syng.

The departure is the latest in recent months for the group. Top designers Colin Burns, Shota Aoyagi and Peter Russell-Clark all left at the end of last year. Several longtime designers on Apple's software design team have also indicated that they plan to leave in the near future.

Both the industrial-design and user-interface groups are overseen by Jeff Williams, the company's chief operating officer. He has served in that role since Ive's departure in 2019, but he took over direct management of the industrial-design team when Hankey left last year.

Having an operations person to oversee a division dedicated to design and innovation has moved up the ranks of some employees, according to people familiar with the situation. He said cost-cutting measures have also been taken which have increased the unrest. Under Ive, the team began exploratory projects that did not necessarily require immediate payoff – something that has been reined in.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, did not respond to a request for comment.

Ive's core design team consisted of about two dozen people for more than a decade. Around the time I left in 2019, an exodus began. Nearly all the senior designers who reported directly to Ive are now gone. Many of them joined LoveFrom, a design firm founded by Ive, which worked with Apple until two years ago.

The industrial-design team has been replenished with new outside talent, but some longtime members remain who worked under Ive and helped create hit products like the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Richard Howarth, who serves as vice president of design, along with Molly Anderson and Duncan Kerr, is a carryover from the Ivey era.

Since Hankey's departure, the most senior designers have led the day-to-day operations of the team, working alongside Williams. The head of operations was chosen to partially manage the group, so that he could better coordinate with the manufacturing team. There was also a lack of other viable options to replace Hankey.

The Apple design team is tasked with crafting the look and feel of devices and software, as well as developing new features and interfaces. This includes subtle details like the sound of ringtones and alerts from the iPhone.

This group was central in the creation of the company's last two product lines, the Apple Watch and the Vision Pro. The design of the watch was led by Ive, who also helped design the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. Although development of Vision Pro began during his tenure, he abandoned it several years before its release.

© 2024 Bloomberg LP


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