Scott Croyle, the man responsible for the stellar designs of HTC's One smartphone line, is leaving the Taiwanese company. Having led HTC's industrial design and user experience teams since his One & Co studio was acquired in 2008, Croyle is now departing to work on his own projects. HTC confirmed Croyle's plans to The Verge, though the company describes the move as a "long-term transition" where he will remain involved with HTC product development in a consultancy role for a few months to come.

"HTC remains at the forefront of smartphone innovation. Scott Croyle will be focusing on special projects and dedicated on next generation developments."

Croyle will occupy this transitional role while handing off his full set of responsibilities, the most important of which will be the development of next year's flagship HTC device. His second-in-command, Jonah Becker, is likely to take over most of his duties and step up to lead HTC's San Francisco studio. In a potentially related move, Drew Bamford has been promoted from overseeing the Sense user experience to being in charge of all HTC software and services. The company plans to simplify its internal structure by consolidating its user experience team much in the same that it did with its industrial design and engineering group.

"Drew Bamford is an experienced and talented leader at HTC with solid track records in leading and building our user experience team. Effective immediately, in addition to his current duties in product development and user experience, Drew will lead HTC Creative Labs and focus on innovative new products and user experience strategies."

Bamford will report directly to CEO Peter Chou, who has expressed a desire to return his attention to product design and leave the corporate side of the business to others.

HTC's executive team has seen a lot of turnover in recent months, but Croyle's departure is the most significant one yet. Amid consistently slumping sales, the one bright light for HTC has been its critically acclaimed leadership in design. Without the captain steering that ship, there's now even greater uncertainty about how HTC will fare in the future — particularly now that the company is trying to break into new product categories like wearables and needs a clear vision more than ever.

Watch now: Designing the new HTC One (M8)