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(Pocket-lint) - Apple is about to fundamentally change, with the sudden departure of one of its long-time executives.

Chief design officer Jonathan "Jony" Ive is leaving Apple after nearly 30 years. He helped create the company's most influential products, including Macs, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and so on. He also helped design its “spaceship” campus. In more recent years, starting with iOS 7 in 2013, he even completely changed how Apple's software looks and functions.

AppleJony Ive Is Leaving Apple After Nearly Three Decades To Start A Design Company image 3

Ive confirmed he is exiting “to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients". Designer Marc Newsom will work with him on this new startup, which is called LoveFrom. Ive said he still plans to work with Apple “on a range of projects" and that he is proud of its design team, process, and culture. "Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history," Ive said.

In a press release, Apple CEO Tim Cook added:

“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.”

Going forward, Evans Hankey, Apple's VP of industrial design, and Alan Dye, VP of human interface design, will report to Jeff Williams. According to Ive, Apple will "certainly thrive under" this excellent leadership, and he described Evans, Alan and Jeff as his "closest collaborators".

Financial Times also interviewed Ive about his departure. He said that "this just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change".

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Writing by Maggie Tillman.