Former Samsung Designer says Design Simply ‘Stinks’

[su_heading size=”22″]Former designer for Samsung America offers up brutal assessment of the electronic giants design process.[/su_heading]

In a recent interview with FastCompany, former head of product strategy and user experience design at Samsung Design America, Kevin Lee, dropped the hammer on why he feels that the company “stinks” at designing its products.

Lee said that during his 18-month tenure working with Samsung, the company never lived up to its pledge to deliver ‘the next big thing’. He says this was not do to a lack of creative ideas, but because more a combination of cultural, managerial and structural issues within the hierarchical Korean-run company that prevented concepts from seeing the light of day as real Samsung products.


From Fast Company:

[su_quote]”I’ve seen amazing concepts and prototypes. It was like, ‘Wow, if only we had that in the market, the rest of the market would go bankrupt,’” Lee says. But during his 18-month tenure with the company, Samsung failed to launch the next big thing. It wasn’t a lack of good ideas, or Samsung’s stinginess in hiring good designers, he argues. It was a combination of problems—cultural, managerial, and structural—that prevented concepts from making it to market as real Samsung products. Most of all, though, he blames the Western designer’s mentality—the Silicon Valley archetype of stubborn genius that today’s innovators hold so dear. [/su_quote]

Ivey Business School professor Lynn Imai weighed in for the article with her insights:

[su_quote]In a sweeping sort of way, the Korean culture in itself is hierarchical, Confucius-based, and group-minded rather than individualistic… “In the U.S., there’s an assumption that the client becomes educated from the person providing the consulting or service, there’s a value added something the person is providing to the client, and the relationship is, ‘I can teach you the best way to do something,'” she explains. “In Korea, if your client is a high-powered company or government, the relationship is totally switched. It’s harder to get things done just because the person providing the service is sort of at the whim over what the client wants. It’s as if the client has more power.”[/su_quote]


Lee doesn’t see things changes at Samsung anytime soon, despite the appointment of a new global head of design.

Samsung has been on a rough road of late with falling profits from its flagship smartphones that are being met with indifference rather than excitement

The Galaxy S6, which is expected at Mobile World Congress next month –the world will be watching to see if its really a “big thing.



The Staff

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