In something of a bombshell revelation, Apple today disclosed via a press release that legendary designer Jony Ive is planning to leave the company later on in the year. Following that, Ive will open an independent design studio that will have Apple as one of its clients.

“While he pursues personal projects,” the press release reads in part. “Ive in his new company will continue to work closely and on a range of projects with Apple.”

Ive of course played an instrumental role in resurrecting Apple from the brink of bankruptcy back in the late 90s, thanks to a number of iconic product designs like the Bondi Blue iMac, the iPod, and of course, the iPhone.

With Ive set to leave, designers Evans Hankey and Alan Dye will assume control of Apple’s vaunted design group where they will report directly to Jeff Williams.

“Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” Tim Cook said.

“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,” Cook added. “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.”

Commenting on the departure himself, Ive said that he’s proud of his contributions to Apple and that the design team will “certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators.”

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Ive said: “While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come. This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.”