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Samsung hires designer from Jony Ive's old firm to overhaul its products

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Park Hae-mook / The Korea Herald

Samsung is turning a new design leaf lately, eschewing plastic on its flagship phones for the premium feel of metal — but the overhaul is going far beyond a single choice in materials. The Korea Herald reports that Samsung has just installed a new global design chief in recent days: 47-year-old Lee Don-tae of London-based design firm Tangerine, the company that British designer Jonathan Ive called home prior to his storied career at Apple.

A critical juncture for Samsung

While Samsung's mobile division — a multibillion-dollar revenue center in need of an adrenaline shot — will clearly be a focus for Lee, his job is expected to be much bigger: he'll be working from Samsung's Design Management Center, which the Herald says falls directly under the CEO's control. "He will work to elevate Samsung's design prowess overall rather than focusing on a specific product," a company official says.

In the short term, the Galaxy S6 — arguably the most important single product in Samsung's consumer product portfolio — is expected in the coming months, so it'll be interesting to see where Samsung plans on taking its image in 2015. It'll be even more interesting to see how Lee reshapes it, which could take many months more.