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  (Source: EdenVapes)
Samsung hopes to channel some design "magic" of its own

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd.'s (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) recent flagship phones, including the Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy S5,  and Galaxy Note 4 have been lauded for their solid hardware specifications, but have been criticized with frequency for their "defiantly plastic" frame, which many feel is less inspired than Samsung's chief rival Apple, Inc. (AAPL) or rising Android stars like China's Xiaomi.

Apple's design owes largely to the direction of Sir Jonathan Paul "Jony" Ive who worked for two years at London, UK design firm Tangerine, before joining Apple in 1992.

Now Apple's archrival Samsung Electronics has more than two decades later gone to that same talent pool, hiring a South Korean-born co-president of Tangerine as its new head of design.  The new Samsung Electronics design chief,  Lee Don-tae, joined Tangerine in 1998 -- a little over half a decade after Ive left for Apple.

Lee Don-tae
Samsung's new global design chief is Lee Don-tae. [Image Source: Arirang]

The two design chiefs had decidedly different upbringings.  Ive grew up in technology-rich London, the son of a silversmith.  Don-tae was born in South Korea's Gangwon Province in 1968.  The son of laborers, he grew up in a home without electricity.  He told an audience in South Korea last year:

Whenever I tell my employees in England about my upbringing, they don’t believe me.  And I, who grew up without lights at home, am now working for a foreign company. I somehow moved to England, somehow got myself to speak English, and somehow got myself hired at Tangerine. I think one becomes a step closer to creativity when they break away from what’s familiar.

At the same presentation he insinuated that South Korean companies weren't focused enough on design, stating:

Companies should not only use their business partners as a means to making profit.  Partners should respect each other and cooperate together. And if more Korean companies use design as means of creativity in their businesses, I think more of them will experience success.

Don-tae is perhaps best known for his contributions to a British Airway redesign effort led by Creative Director Matt Round.  Notably, Don-tae's "ying-yang" S-shaped seat design for the "Club World" business section drew rave reviews for increasing leg room, while also packing in 20 percent more seats.  Reportedly the design, which debuted in 2000, helped to increase the airline's profit by $738M USD -- an impressive feat that led Don-tae to win the prestigious Interior Design Excellence Awards’ Grand Prix in 2001.

Club World
Lee Don-tae designed the "ying-yang" seat layout used in British Airways' "Club World" business class section (Boeing 787 w/ seating layout is pictured on let; right pictures are from Airbus A380).


British Airways
Supermodel sisters Georgia May Jagger and Lizzy Jagger British Airways' new seats.  The seats helped boost profits by three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Don-tae's hire at Samsung Electronics was first reported by The Korean Herald.

At Samsung Don-tae will hold the rank of VP and will be the global head of the Design Management Center in Seoul, South Korea.  He will lead a team of 1,000+ employees and will report directly to Samsung President Yoon Boo-keun.  A Samsung spokesperson told The Korean Herald that Don-tae's role would be "to elevate Samsung’s design prowess overall rather than focusing on a specific product."

He will steer the design of all Samsung Electronics hardware, including home appliances, PCs, tablets, smartphones, and smartwatch.  It's unclear whether Samsung's new VP of mobile design Lee Min-hyouck (who last year replaced former mobile design chief Change Dong-hoon) is going to weather the storm with this latest shakeup.

Source: The Korean Herald





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