Apple Promotes Jony Ive to Chief Design Officer, Creates VPs for Hardware and UI Design

Jony IveJony Ive

Jony Ive. Sir Jony Ive. Apple's king of design, as I've called him, has a brand new and ever so nifty title: Chief Design Officer. It's a brand new position created just for him, and it comes with two new vice presidents in charge of industrial design and user interface who report directly to him.

Alan Dye is being promoted to Vice President of User Interface Design. He has been credited with playing a major roll in both the iOS 7 redesign and with the Apple Watch interface. Richard Howarth will be Apple's new Vice President of Industrial Design. His Apple bona fides include a little ol' thing called the iPhone.

The news comes to us via a wonderful story by Stephen Fry for UK newspaper The Telegraph about Apple, CEO Tim Cook, and Sir Jony. In it, Mr. Fry talks about visiting Apple Campus 2, how Sir Jony designed the "patio furniture" outside Apple's employee cafe, and how this promotion is intended to free Sir Jony from the tedium of management.

Alan Dye will now be VP of User Interface Design

From the piece:

When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. 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. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch’s operating system came from him. With those two in place I can ...”

I could feel him avoiding the phrase “blue sky thinking”... think more freely?”


Yes, indeed. It seems a good move for Apple. As the company becomes ever-larger, there is too much even for the workaholics in the executive ranks to do everything themselves.

It's interesting that Apple, a company whose very fortunes are predicated on the primacy of design, is just now naming Sir Jony "Chief Design Officer." Johnson & Johnson, Philips Electronics, and even Pepsi (!!) started creating chief design officers in late 2014, and yet there's no way that would have happened with Apple showing the world how important design can be.

Once again, Apple wasn't the first to do something—create a CDO position—but once again Apple was the first company to get it right.

Apple's leadership page does not reflect the new titles or other changes as of this writing. According to 9to5Mac, Sir Jony won't officially hand off managerial duties to Messrs. Dye and Howarth until July 1.