It’s all change at Samsung this week. Reuters has reported that the company’s head of mobile design has resigned, making way for some new blood. The man on his way out is Chang Dong-hoon, who will vacate his current role for Lee Min-hyouk. Unless you’re well versed with Samsung’s corporate structure, neither name is likely to be familiar, but make no mistake – these two have played an instrumental part in making the Galaxy series a world beater.
Since 2005, Chang has overseen the majority of Samsung’s Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones, and is a huge supporter of the Design 3.0 philosophy, which took Samsung’s products in a new, user-focused direction. He cites the world around him as a key influence. If you think back to the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy S4’s Nature UX, with the water ripple effects and smooth, pebble-like shell, much of this came from Chang and his team. Chang’s not leaving Samsung though, and according to Reuters he’ll still head up Samsung’s design center.
So who’s the new guy? Lee Min-hyouk has apparently earned the nickname of Midas, after designing most Galaxy S phones, and the original Galaxy Note. In 2010, at the age of 42, he became the company’s youngest senior executive, primarily due to his work on the Galaxy devices.
Such a high profile executive shuffle inevitably makes people question whether it’s a response to criticism over the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S5’s lack of visual excitement, but it may not be the drastic overhaul if first looks like. In a 2012 interview with Reuters, Lee is quoted as saying he “sees no harm in tweaking rather than innovating” when it comes to design, indicating brave new concepts from the company may be further away than hoped. Additionally, it seems the same two people are still driving Samsung’s design department forward, just in different positions.