Apple Inc announced on Thursday that its Chief Design Officer Jony Ive will leave the iPhone maker later this year to form an independent design company, after spending nearly three decades with the technology company.

Jony Ive is a key Apple player who’s made some of the most visible contributions to the company’s iconic products, Ive said he will be leaving to start his own business, which will still retain Apple as a client. “Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated,” Apple CEO Tim Cooksaid in a statement.   Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.”

After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” reads an official explanationfrom Ive. “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.”