Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Big Things Popping: Apple Adding Yves Saint Laurent Style

Apple Inc. announced that it is hiring former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve. In classic Apple style, there are very little details about the hiring and no official comment on what division he’ll be working in.
Of course, whenever there’s a lack of details there’s always speculation. The rumors range from him taking a design role to filling the position as Apple retail chief.
The only word out of Apple so far is a vague comment as reported by
“ ”We’re thrilled to welcome Paul Deneve to Apple,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said. “He’ll be working on special projects as a vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.”
While it may seem weird that a leading technology company would hire a fashion guy like Deneve, it makes perfect sense in the world of Apple that values design as a competitive advantage. It also shouldn’t be a far stretch for the former Yves Saint Laurent CEO. According to Techcrunch:
“ The leap from Parisian fashion to Silicon Valley tech might seem like a big one, but looking at Deneve’s résumé it doesn’t seem so out of the blue. Though the past decade of his career has been in the upper echelons of the fashion world in senior roles at Nina Ricci, Lanvin, and YSL, Deneve’s LinkedIn profile also indicates that he worked in sales and marketing at Apple Europe from 1990 to 1997. He also holds a master’s degree from tech entrepreneur hotbed Stanford University, and is said to work as a part-time advisor to several Silicon Valley startups.”
Whatever it is that Deneve will be heading up should have major implications. Whenever you add someone who’s proven in a related but different skill set, you often get great results because a fresh perspective will be given to already great products.
It will be interesting to see if more tech companies will value design as much as Apple and other leading design/companies.
Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, once said something of to the effect that while all companies know that consumers love aesthetically pleasing products, we still continue to see ugly monitors, computers, etc.
As one of the companies that values design the most, this is a step in the right direction. For now we can continue to speculate what Deneve will add and whether this move will start a trend.
Maybe Gucci to Samsung? Versace to Microsoft? We’ll see.

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