Gurman: Tang Tan, Apple’s Departing VP of iPhone and Watch Design, to Join LoveFrom to Work on ‘AI Hardware’ With OpenAI

Mark Gurman, reporting for Bloomberg:

Legendary designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman are enlisting an Apple Inc. veteran to work on a new artificial intelligence hardware project, aiming to create devices with the latest capabilities.

As part of the effort, outgoing Apple executive Tang Tan will join Ive’s design firm LoveFrom, which will shape the look and capabilities of the new products, according to people familiar with the matter. Altman, an executive who has become the face of modern AI, plans to provide the software underpinnings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the endeavor isn’t public. [...]

Tan will lead hardware engineering at the project while working at LoveFrom, the people said. Bloomberg News previously reported that the executive was stepping down as Apple’s vice president of iPhone and watch product design. He isn’t slated to depart until February, though his responsibilities were already divided up this month.

“Aiming to create devices with the latest capabilities” is an empty description, but the overall dynamic is interesting nonetheless.

In all, more than 20 former Apple employees have joined the design firm. [...] Shota Aoyagi, another member of Ive’s storied industrial design team at Apple, has also exited. He just started at LoveFrom.

More designers from Ive’s team at Apple now work at LoveFrom than remain at Apple.

Update 27 Dec 2023: From a little birdie:

An important distinction on Tang Tan that Gurman doesn’t get, or is intentionally vague about: Tang ran mechanical engineering for iPhone (“product design”). He was never part of the industrial design group (“design team” or just “the studio”). Obviously, product design works very closely with the design team.

Tuesday, 26 December 2023