Jony Ive helped bring Apple back from the brink of collapse in the 1990s. He was a close confidant of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and the lead designer for various key projects, most notably the iPhone.
The man whose designs of the iPhone, iMac and iPad helped Apple become a leading technology giant is leaving the company later this year.
Apple's Chief Design Officer Jony Ive will form his own firm after nearly three decades at Apple, the company said on Thursday.
Ive played a major role the Apple's revival in the 1990s by leading the design of products ranging from the iMac to the iPhone.
"Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple's revival cannot be overstated," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.
The California-based company said it would continue to work directly with Ive on exclusive projects after he departs.
Before his death, Steve Jobs (L) was worked closely with Ive on product design. Jobs' successor as Apple CEO, Tim Cook, reportedly plays a less integral role in product design.
Ive joined Apple in 1992 and has led the design team since 1996. He worked closely with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs before his death in 2011. Jobs referred to his design chief as his "spiritual partner."
"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. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple's history," Ive said in a statement.
Apple's share price fell by 1.34% in after-hours trading on the back of the announcement, although the stock has been on an upward trajectory over the past six months after a suffering huge drop in value between last October and this January.
cw/msh (AP, dpa, Reuters)