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Apple chief designer Jony Ive is leaving to form his own company

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Jony Ive, the designer who had a hand in making Apple the powerhouse it is today, has announced he is leaving the company to start his own design business.

Ive, who joined Apple in the early 90s, has been the company’s chief designer since 1996 when the company was struggling.

The turnaround began in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO and made Ive his right-hand man.

Jobs once referred to him as his “spiritual partner at Apple”.

But the market reacted sharply to the news of Ive’s departure with Apple shares falling 1.5 per cent in after-market trading that wiped almost $13 billion from the company’s value.

Ive’s first major product design for Apple was the reimagined iMac in 1998 which was followed by a number of hit products including the iPod (2001), the iPod Mini (2004), the iPhone (2007), the MacBook Air (2008), the iPad (2010), Apple Watch (2015) and the Apple Airpods (2016).

But the 52-year-old will not be lost to Apple who will become this first client at his new creative business called LoveForm.

Apple design team leaders Evans Hankey (VP of industrial design) and Alan Dye (VP of human interface design) will now step into Ive’s rather large shoes and report to Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.

“After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer,” Ive said in a statement.

“Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history. “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators.

“I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook called Ive “a singular figure in the design world”.

“His role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s ground-breaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” Cook said.

“Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built.

“After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”