Samsung hires new design chief to reinvigorate smartphone range

Samsung has hired a new head of design as it looks to reinvigorate its smartphone range.

Lee-Don-tae, the ex-CEO of design firm Tangerine which Apple’s iPhone designer Jony Ive previously worked at, began a new role as Samsung’s vice president and global design chief earlier this month.

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According to the Korea Herald, Lee will be tasked with improving the company’s aesthetic in more general terms, rather than working on individual handsets.

"He will work to elevate Samsung's design prowess overall rather than focusing on a specific product," a company official says.

As such, Lee will be based at the South Korean company’s Design Management Centre and report directly to the CEO, Jong-Kyun Shin. Lee's first task will be to halt the slump in Samsung smartphone sales, largely brought about by competition from lower-cost Asian competitors. The Galaxy S6 is likely to see release in the next six months or so, but it’s unlikely that Lee will have been able to have a major effect on the phone’s design in the short time he’s been at the firm.

Lee was part of a team led by tangerine founder and CEO, Martin Darbyshire and tangerine’s creative director Matt Round, that re-designed British Airways’ Club World seat. By reconfiguring the seating into a Z-shape, capacity increased by 20 per cent and BA’s profits were boosted by $738 million (£480 million).

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Tangerine was founded in 1989 and has since gone on to work with major brands including Sky, Hyundai and LG. Ive left the firm to become a full-time Apple employee in 1992 and was subsequently responsible for the look of many iconic Apple products such as the iPod and iPhone, as well as the upcoming Apple Watch.