Apple design chief Jony Ive is the new chancellor of the world’s best design school

Chancellor Ive.
Chancellor Ive.
Image: Reuters/Rebecca Naden
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He’s the design genius behind the iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Apple’s new $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, California, and he’s also been knighted by his native Britain. In the ultimate revenge move, Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive today was appointed chancellor of London’s Royal College of Art (RCA), the school he once rejected attending.

The five-year appointment makes Ive the ceremonial head of what’s widely considered as the top design school in the world. His duties include presiding over meetings of RCA’s advisory committee, attending faculty meetings and conferring degrees at graduation ceremonies. Ive will not leave his position at Apple.

“I am thrilled to formalise my relationship with the RCA, given the profound influence the College has had on so many of the artists and designers that I admire,” the 50-year old industrial designer said in a press statement. “Our design team [at Apple] includes many RCA alumni, who embody the fundamental values of the College.”

Ive was once critical of RCA’s learning atmosphere. He briefly considered pursuing a degree in car design at London’s 121-year old public university but found the vibe off-putting. ”The classes were full of students making vroom! vroom! noises as they drew,” explained the notoriously introverted designer to TIME magazine in 2014. He attended Newcastle Polytechnic (now called Northumbria University) and graduated with honors. He also has honorary doctorates from his alma matter, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, the Rhode Island School of Design and the RCA. Ive was knighted into the Order of the British Empire for “services to design and enterprise” in 2012.

Ive’s appointment comes as RCA has been re-orienting its design curricula towards STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics). RCA intends to introduce science-focused postgraduate courses and encourage research in computer technology, the impact of the digital economy, advanced manufacturing and intelligent mobility.

Ive, whose minimalist aesthetic shaped Apple’s new headquarters, is expected to advise the college as it moves into a new campus in Battersea, in southeast London by 2020. RCA’s chancellorship was previously held by bagless vacuum cleaner magnate James Dyson, who is currently busy preparing for the opening of his own engineering university in September.