The fall of Jony Ive's Apple team continues as 20-year design veteran leaves — now hardly any members of his team are still on staff

Apple Park shining in the sun with blue sky
(Image credit: Apple)

The days of Jony Ive roaming the halls of Apple Park are long gone, but so is much of the design team that worked under him a swell. Now, another senior member of Apple's industrial design team has moved on to pastures new. Peter Russell-Clarke spent almost 20 years with Apple but reportedly left the company back in October shortly after the unveiling of the revamped iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro handsets.

Ive of course left Apple back in 2019 but there has been a steady loss of design know-how ever since, with multiple long-term Apple employees choosing to take the opportunity to find a home elsewhere. Evans Hankey, Apple's replacement for Ive, left in 2023 with no replacement found — instead, Apple's industrial designers now report to Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams.

As for Russell-Clarke, he's moved on to a new role at a startup called Vast, helping the company build out its own design team.

'Renowned Apple Industrial Designer Peter Russell-Clarke'

In a press release Vast was quick to make sure that everyone knew just what Russell-Clarke had been up to during his time at Apple. "Mr. Russell-Clarke is an industrial designer and educator, renowned for his design work at Apple," it explains. "Over his nearly 20 year tenure at Apple, Russell-Clarke was instrumental in the design of iPhones, iPads, Macs, and Apple Watches, as well as the Apple Park headquarters and consumer stores."

Vast also knows that it has someone who knows his way around a patent, with his name sitting on "well over 1,000 Apple patents including the iMac, iPod Nano, MacBook Pro, and MacBook Air."

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman notes that almost all of the roughly two dozen designers who worked for Ive have now left the company, a team that was famous for the products that saw Apple become the juggernaut that it is today. Ive himself now works for his own design firm, LoveFrom, a company that has some high-profile names on its books. Those names include Ferrari and Airbnb, although it isn't clear how much time Ive spends working on any of those contracts.

As for Russell-Clarke, there don't appear to be any doubts about his move. “I am excited to be involved with Vast on their incredibly ambitious endeavor,” he said via Vast's press release. “It’s a huge task, but from what I’ve seen, the experience, enthusiasm, and dedication of the Vast team will no doubt lead to incredible things.”

Vast itself says that it s working on artificial gravity space stations, something that Russell-Clarke was unlikely to get to try his hand at while working at Apple — no matter how much Apple Park might look like a UFO.

A return to form

Despite Ive's leaving and the ongoing brain drain that it kicked off, Apple's recent products have signaled a return to form for its design team. It's currently producing some of its best iPhones, while the most modern iPads and MacBooks look great and even brought back some of the features and ports that Ive stripped away.

Given how far in advance Apple designs its products it could be some time before the impact of Russell-Clarke's leaving is felt. Vast says that its new designer left Apple earlier this year "to pursue passion projects, including products and environments to improve the health of people and the planet." Those are things that Apple itself has been trying to do for years, of course. Russell-Clarke will no doubt hope to continue those efforts at his new company.

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Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.