President of Jony Ive’s old company is now in charge of Samsung design
It’s not exactly news that Samsung would like be a whole lot more like Apple. And when you compare the sales figures from Samsung’s ailing mobile division to Apple’s thriving iPhone numbers, who can blame it?
But while the South Korea-based tech giant isn’t going to be able to steal away any of the design brains behind Apple’s must-have devices any time soon, it’s trying to do the next best thing: hiring a former boss from the company Jony Ive helped start before he set sale for Apple in the 1990s.
The company in question is Tangerine, a British design consultancy which Ive founded, along with two other UK designers.
Earlier this month, Samsung hired Lee Don-tae, Tangerine’s former co-president, to run its design division for all its consumer products — including the Galaxy smartphones.
Lee never actually worked with Ive, since he joined Tangerine in 1998, roughly six years after Ive left to head to Cupertino. He was named president in 2005.
While it would be false to put all of Apple’s success at the feet of Jony Ive, there’s no doubt that he played a considerable part in Apple’s ascension from money-losing company to the world’s most valuable tech empire — likely second only to Steve Jobs. In particular, Apple’s design-first approach is something that is all too rarely seen in other companies, where design is viewed as something of an afterthought.
We don’t yet know the point at which Lee Don-tae’s influence on Samsung devices will first be seen — but it’s worth noting that the company is currently going through something of a design rethink, including a suspiciously Apple Watch-inspired take on its existing smartwatch product line.