Christopher Stringer, the lead designer of the original iPhone, and one of the top two or three dreamers on Apple’s Design team, has decided to leave the Silicon Valley megabrand. Though an official statement of departure is yet to be made by Stringer as well as the company, the news has been confirmed by multiple sources.
Stringer, even before joining Apple, was quite a star in the tech world. He’s is the same creator who helped develop Dell’s design language and won an ID Design Review award for an innovative light switch.
Stringer has been a designer with Apple since 1995, and over the course of his career at Apple, he worked on projects of different sizes and magnitude – including the early PowerBooks and tower computers, the iPhone, or even something as overlooked, but ever-admired as the designs on product packaging. It was not the size of the project that seemed to draw him, but the magnitude of the vision.
Stringer was also the first designer to give testimony at the Apple-Samsung trial where, according to Reuters news service, “Stringer looked every inch the designer with his shoulder-length hair, salt-and-pepper beard, wearing an off-white suit with a narrow black tie”.
Speaking of his work at Apple, Stringer described the role of an industrial designer at Apple as “to imagine objects that don’t exist and to guide the process that brings them to life. And so that includes defining the experience that a customer has when they touch and feel our products. It’s managing the overall form and the materials, the textures, the colors. And it’s also working with engineering groups to, as I say, bring it to life, to bring it to the market and to building the craftsmanship that it absolutely needs to have to have that Apple quality.”
A couple years ago, when Jony Ive (now, Chief Design Officer at Apple), was promoted, Stringer was one of the two people who were contenders to take on the design studio. Even though he did not get to be the top boss back then, he has been the right-hand man for Ive, and the backbone to the Apple design team.
It is unclear at this point if he is joining another company, or if he is looking forward to a well-deserved retirement, but 52-year-old Stringer will definitely be missed at Apple after he is gone.
The departure of a person such as Stringer would ordinarily raise the question of how would it affect the team and the work around it, what would the future Apple designs be like, and would a difference, or ‘something missing’ be felt?
Well, the answer to the last one would mostly be no.
This is so because the designing of a product at Apple is not done by one person alone. The design team at Apple, or any organization of the kind, is a tightly knit team, and each product has designated a design lead, the designer who does most of the actual work, and one or two deputies, who all work on the idea together. The vision, thus, is a shared one.
Even though Stringer’s contributions will be missed, his departure from Apple is not expected to jeopardise the creativity that the world’s come to respect Apple for.