The ID team —previously sometimes referred to within Apple as IDg, for Industrial Design Group —is headed by Jony Ive and for decades has stayed the same. It has always been small, it has always been secretive, and it has also always been crucial to Apple.
One of the people leaving, Daniele De Iuliis, has been there 28 years and counts the Mac Color Classic among his projects. Rico Zorkendorfer, who appears to have worked on the iPhone and Apple Watch amongst other products, is leaving after 15 years.
Back in 1989 when Apple wanted to hire designer Robert Brunner, they wanted him so badly, and he had turned them down so often, that they agreed to his conditions. He wouldn’t just be some manager who commissioned other companies to do the designing, he could create his own team within Apple to do the work.
There were significant additions to the team from 1992 to 1994, including Danny Coster —who left to join GoPro in 2016 —plus Bart Andre and Jony Ive.
While Ive didn’t run the team until Brunner left in 1996, he was responsible for hiring new designers onto the group. Some of those he hired included Christopher Stringer in 1995 who worked on PowerBooks amongst much else, and Richard Howarth too, at around the same time.
Everyone’s circumstances are different and if we can’t figure out the names of people on the team, we’re never going to be told their salaries and stock options. Nonetheless, it appears certain that if you’re in the ID team, you are well compensated.
And so you should be.
Time after time, Apple’s design team finds new ways to solve old problems and suddenly their way is the only way. Their way is how it should always have been —and their way is adopted by every other company in existence. The talent in that team is remarkable, and while you have to imagine that seeing the entire planet using your product is a huge reward, the money ain’t bad either.
So while it’s a shame that no one is left from the original group, and it’s a little unusual that they’ve just lost a fifth of the current team, there may be something going on that’s much more peculiar.
If you take a look at Apple’s own jobs page, you’ll find that there are currently seven positions available within the Industrial Design team. Again, Apple has lots of designers and it’s not clear when you cross that line into the ID team, but there are seven jobs open —and the company is also welcoming portfolio submissions from people who want to work there.
We have no way to compare job openings over the three decades of the ID team, no possible way to know whether this is an unusually high or low number. However, we can tell one crucial thing, and that’s how long the jobs have been open.
There’s a post within Industrial Design for a “Senior Product Designer, iCloud”, which has been open since October 22, 2018.
If Apple is moving to Services, if there are no more hardware worlds to conquer, maybe these people just aren’t finding enough to keep them at Apple.
You would imagine that Apple is an attractive company to work for, if only for staff discounts on iPads. This year LinkedIn ranked it the seventh most sought-after employer which, while down one place from last year, is still pretty good.
Yet some jobs in the various design departments are lying open for months. Apple is apparently not getting the quality of applicants it wants, and this year it’s lost four key designers from its most crucial department. Whether the attrition will be a problem remains to be seen.