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Samsung has hired a new design boss – here are some of his old company’s most gorgeous designs

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:55PM EST

Samsung this week officially hired a man named Lee Don-tae as its new global head of design. While a lot of coverage surrounding his hire has talked about his connections to Apple design guru Jony Ive, Lee is very much his own man and has built a hugely successful career as the co-CEO of highly regarded U.K. design firm Tangerine. Tangerine’s most well known work has been interior design for luxury airline services, although the firm has done some consumer electronics work as well. Below we’ve posted some pictures of Tangerine’s top designs along with the company’s own descriptions of each one.

 British Airways Club World seating

What Tangerine says:

“[Club World seating was] groundbreaking and redefined the design of aircraft interiors; the now world famous and fully patented yin-yang approach. Instead of all passengers facing the front of the cabin, seats were paired in a forward/rearward formation.”

Asiana Airlines A380 INTERIORS

What Tangerine says:

With the base engineering of the seats fixed, the Tangerine team focused on improving the surfaces, the shapes and the height of the shell. Subtle adjustments resulted in significant design improvements. The front of the upper deck was transformed into a bar and lounge area, with cunning use of colour and finishes creating a sophisticated ambience. Members of the Seoul design team based themselves in London so they could be closer to the assembly process.

Samsung C&T’s luxury Raemian Apartments

What Tangerine says:

We developed a ‘future heritage’ design philosophy or spirit. The lines found under the rooftops of traditional Korean buildings were incorporated into contemporary styling. The features of traditional Korean pottery, the high glaze finish and vivid colours, were reflected in the apartments’ decor. The philosophy was applied to everything from light switches and power points to the landscaping and the colour of the carpets. The attention to detail quickly marked out the Raemian homes which started to win design awards within a year and soon became the number one brand with 10,000 apartments built each year.

SK Telecom’s Imagine Stores

What Tangerine says:

The name ‘Imagine’ was selected for the brand, an optimistic and fresh identity and logo for what was designed as a distinctive retail experience rather than simply a shopping opportunity. The look and feel of graphics and colour palette emerged from intensive discussion with company executives, workers and customers. The design of the stores needed to be different from the frantic commercial environment of some of SKT’s competitors, offering a calming and assured atmosphere that would allow customers to take matters at their own pace. The design was contemporary but confident, with expert advisors on hand to offer advice on all aspects of the technology. Two stores were opened in August 2011 and the approach and branding has now been absorbed into SKT’s four “Imagine’ service centres operating across Seoul.

The bottom line

None of these designs really gives us any insight into what future Samsung phones will look like under Lee’s direction but they’re nonetheless all interesting for their originality and creative use of space. We’ll be very interested to see if this somewhat daring approach carries over to Samsung’s future products.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.