Jony Ive, the superstar designer responsible for the iconic look of the iMac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, will finally stop working with Apple.
Ive originally left Apple in 2019 to start his own design firm, LoveFrom. According to a new article in The New York Times, Apple signed a $100 million, multi-year contract that made it LoveFrom’s primary client—but Ive apparently chafed at how the contract restricted him from working with a fuller range of clients.
Current LoveFrom clients include Airbnb and Ferrari. With Apple no longer in the picture, Ive could also do the previously unthinkable: design for another hardware company. But would he actually take that step, especially given how many other iconic (and non-tech) brands are willing to pay a hefty sum for his services?
Tripp Mickle’s recent book, “After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul,” described how Ive, when he was still Apple’s chief designer, eventually burned out after repeated clashes with the company’s finance and marketing arms. Rather than have Ive quit outright, which might have impacted the stock price, Apple CEO Tim Cook negotiated a compromise that saw Ive give up daily management responsibilities to focus on product design. But that wasn’t enough, and eventually Ive left to spin up his consultancy. (Apple has pushed back against the version of events presented by Mickle, suggesting the book exaggerated the company’s internal conflicts.)
If you’re interested in becoming a designer, keep in mind that you likely won’t earn as much as Ive—not at first, at least. That aside, it’s potentially a lucrative job. According to Emsi Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, UI/UX designers with more than nine years of experience can earn $110,000 (or more) per year. Product designers, meanwhile, can earn hefty six-figure salaries by working for some of the nation’s largest tech companies.