Sir Jony Ive, the Briton who over two decades helped turn Apple into the world’s most valuable company, is leaving to set up his own venture.
Mr Ive, designer of the Mac, iPod and iPhone, leaves later this year to start a creative business called LoveFrom, with Apple as its first client.
“This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” he said.
Apple boss Tim Cook said his “role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated”.
But the departure comes at a time of wider change at the tech giant. Retail chief Angela Ahrendts left in April and investors have been worried about falling iPhone sales.
A replacement for Mr Ive has not been chosen.
Little is known about LoveFrom, but it will be based in California. The news was announced in an exclusive interview in the Financial Times.
In the article Mr Ive said Marc Newson, a friend and collaborator at Apple, would also join the new firm. There would also be “a collection of creatives” spanning several different disciplines beyond design, he said.
He became head of Apple’s design studio in 1996, when the company was in poor financial health and cutting jobs. The turnaround began with Mr Ive’s iMac in 1998, followed by the iPod in 2001, iPhone and 2007, and Apple Watch in 2015.