Evans Hankey, Apple vice president of industrial design since 2019, has announced plans to leave the company in the coming months. Apple confirmed her impending departure to Bloomberg.
She has been sitting in the post of hardware design lead once famously held by Jony Ive. Prior to taking the role, Hankey reported to Ive for several years. Since 2019 she has reported to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. She manages dozens of industrial designers at the company. Whereas Ive once oversaw both industrial and software design, Hankey’s responsibility was on the hardware side only. Apple’s head of software design, Alan Dye, will remain in his role, according to sources that spoke with Bloomberg.
Hankey announced her departure this week, saying she will stay for six months while Apple works out its future plans for the industrial design team. She has not publicly said what her next move is. Her role was also held for a short time by designer Richard Howarth from 2015 to 2017. Hankey took it on around the time of Ive’s departure from the company just three years ago. Howarth is still with the company and could be a candidate to replace Hankey.
It’s unclear what this will mean for Apple’s hardware design team moving forward. The company has several major hardware projects underway, including the long-delayed mixed-reality headset along with the usual litany of new iPhones, Macs, iPads, and wearables like the Apple Watch and AirPods. Further delays related to this departure seem unlikely, but whoever Apple chooses as a successor could have a big impact on the company’s hardware design philosophy moving forward.
Industrial design has always been at the forefront of Apple’s brand identity and value proposition to customers. It was Jony Ive, in tandem with Steve Jobs, who spearheaded the designs of the products that have made Apple what it is today, such as the iPhone. Ive departed Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm, which counted Apple as a client until recently. Since his departure, Apple has taken a notably different approach to hardware design, albeit one that may be more suitable to Apple’s position in the market today. The same sort of shift could happen again under new leadership. Since the lead time on product development is somewhat long, we’re unlikely to notice any changes in the products for a few years yet.