I’ve never been a big fan of the term retiring. Somehow it conjures up images of rocking chairs, deeply shaded front porches, out of style clothing and wasting the day away. It’s not for me. I’m a designer through and through. Design is as much a life’s calling as it is a career. It’s actually one of my most significant hobbies. I love to make things, and to make things better. I can’t imagine life without design.

There comes a time in one’s career, however, when you start to think about broadening your view. I’ve been involved with the design of computers for over 30 years. I’ve designed everything from high performance computing systems sitting in raised floor environments to USB keys that fit in your pocket. I’m most noted for leading the design of ThinkPad for over 20 years, but I’ve also designed more computers and related devices than you can possibly imagine. That’s a lot of black paint.

Today I’m announcing my “rewiring”. I’ve decided to step down from my current position as Vice President of design at Lenovo effective June 30th. I want to broaden my view and create the opportunity to do more in the field of design, not less. I will, however, continue to work with Lenovo as a design consultant helping designers and sharing my thoughts on strategic directions. I’m excited to move to this new chapter in my evolving design career.  Brian Leonard, who I handpicked as a successor, will take over the role I previously filled. He is a highly competent design executive who I admire and trust. ThinkPad and its now iconic design will continue to flourish and grow within Lenovo.  

I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish professionally, and the designers who work for me. I’ve travelled a long way with creative designers and technical leaders like Arimasa Naitoh-san, Tomoyuki Takahashi, John Karidis, Luis Hernandez, Fran O’Sullivan, Peter Hortensius, Kazuhiko Yamazaki, Paul Rand, Mike Meister, Wayne Aderman and of course Richard Sapper.  Working with Richard was a gift. A special thanks to YY for having the forethought to purchase IBM’s PC business and infuse ThinkPad with new found energy.

My wife Jena and our family have made countless sacrifices in support of my career and the design cause. For that, I am eternally grateful. My assistant Bev has supported me for so long she’s nearly a member of the family. Her devotion is much appreciated. Life is about relationships, not just products.

Thanks to everyone who has been a part of my journey. It’s not about retiring, it’s about rewiring and what’s next.


David Hill