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Apple’s longest-serving designer to retire; Is the creative team in trouble?

It looks like the last member of Apple’s amazing creative design team, led by Jony Ive, who created some of the most successful and beloved consumer electronics products ever, is leaving the company.

Bart Andre, one of Apple’s longest-serving industrial designers, reportedly told colleagues earlier this month that he’s retiring, as per Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. His exit means that the team, once headed by Jony Ive who left Apple in 2019, has almost completely changed. In other words, Apple’s incredible design team has essentially been overhauled!

Apple brought Andre on board in 1992, which was around the same time they hired Jony Ive. In fact, Andre was part of Ive’s team before Steve Jobs returned to the company in the late 1990s.

Gurman also mentioned that Andre “helped run the team after former chief Evans Hankey, Ive’s successor, departed last year.” Plus, Andre is one of the top holders of Apple patents.

As an industrial designer who played a crucial role in the design team for over three decades, it’s difficult to overstate just how significant Andre’s influence has been on Apple products.

“The Apple design team is tasked with devising the look and feel of devices and software, as well as developing new features and interfaces. That includes minute details like the sound of ringtones and alerts from an iPhone,” writes Gurman.

Andre’s retirement is another instance of what many in the tech world view as an ongoing “brain drain” at Apple, a trend that has been happening since Ive left in 2019.

For instance, at the end of last year, Tang Tan, Apple’s chief product designer, left to join Jony Ive’s design firm, LoveFrom, where Tan will lead the hardware engineering team on the project. But Apple has lost quite a number of other important executives and design leaders. For instance, there was news recently that Steve Hotelling, an influential executive and inventor at Apple, had decided to retire.

But Hotelling and Tan were just the most recent. Other designers and executives that have left recently include Evans Hankey, Patrick Coffman, Colin Burns, and Shota Aoyagi.