Samsung Electronics’ New Design Lead Is An Alum Of Jony Ive’s Former Consulting Firm

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Remember the trypophobia-inducing Galaxy S5 design that Samsung released to near-universal horror last year? The South Korea tech giant hopes to avoid similar debacles in the future with the hiring of Lee Don-tae as its new global design team leader.

What’s especially noteworthy about Lee’s appointment is that he is the former co-president of Tangerine, the design consulting firm where Jony Ive worked before he joined Apple. Ive is, of course, the senior vice president of design at Apple. Since joining Apple in 1992, Ive has spearheaded industrial design for almost all of Apple’s devices, in addition to overseeing the look of its software.

Samsung has been busy beefing up its design team over the past couple of years. Its other hires include Tim Gudgel, who helped design Apple’s retail stores, and influential car designer Chris Bangle.

In addition to leading Tangerine, Lee was on the project team that designed the S-shaped seats in British Airways’ business class. His portfolio also includes projects like solar streetlights and electronic car charging stations. Lee is a professor of industrial design at Hongik University in Seoul, his alma mater.

This is not the first time Lee has worked for Samsung. He was previously design master at Samsung C&T, its engineering and construction group.

Last year, after Samsung was criticized for the appearance of devices including the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy S4, its head of mobile design Chang Dong-hoon resigned. He stayed on as head of Samsung Electronics’ design strategy team, while Lee Min-hyouk took over mobile design.

Lee Don-tae will presumably collaborate closely with both men at Samsung. An official from the company told Korea Joongang Daily that “Lee will be in charge of leading innovation of overall and general design of Samsung products including smartphones.”

Updated with corrections regarding Ive and Lee Don-tae’s roles at Tangerine.

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