The departure was announced inside the Cupertino, California-based technology giant this week, with Hankey telling colleagues that she will remain at Apple for the next six months. Hankey oversees several dozen industrial designers, and the company hasn’t named a replacement.
Her pending exit marks the first time that Apple will be without a de facto design chief since co-founder Steve Jobs retook control of the company in the late 1990s and appointed Ive to the job. Richard Howarth, a key designer on both Ive’s and Hankey’s teams, briefly held the role of head of industrial design, reporting to Ive, between 2015 and 2017.
Apple confirmed Friday that Hankey is stepping down.
“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple,” a spokesman said in a statement. “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.”
Apple has weathered this year’s tech downturn better than most. Its shares have fallen almost 17% in 2022, compared with a 31% drop for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index. Apple rose 2.7% to $147.27 on Friday.
The void left by Hankey could affect Apple’s future design plans and raises fresh questions about how its products will evolve in the post-Ive era. It’s unclear whether Hankey is heading to a different company.
Alan Dye, Apple’s head of design for software and user interfaces, isn’t going anywhere and still reports to Williams, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. Dye was also promoted in 2019 upon Ive’s departure. Gary Butcher, a former top designer within Dye’s division and currently Airbnb Inc.’s vice president of design, is returning to Apple, they added.