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Ex-Samsung designer explains why Samsung can’t design to save its life

Published Feb 17th, 2015 2:20PM EST
Samsung Vs. Apple Design

Samsung makes great products but they’re often hindered by some questionable design decisions — take the Galaxy S5’s Band-Aid-like rear casing or the Galaxy Note 3’s plastic pleather rear casing for just two examples. Fast Company has a very interesting interview with former Samsung designer Kevin Lee, who explains how big cultural differences between Samsung and Silicon Valley designers have made a mess of some of Samsung’s big product designs.

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

It basically boils down to this: Samsung is a company that works best by establishing a collective consensus while Silicon Valley designers are strongly individualistic and aren’t willing to see their grand visions compromised. So when Samsung pays designers to come up with product designs, they’ll either water the idea down with their own ideas or discard it all together if the designer is too insistent on having it remain in its pure form. The result is products that are designed by committee that have a way of trying to appeal to everyone and satisfying no one.

This isn’t all Samsung’s fault, either, as Fast Company writes that designers will often present the company with concepts that are literally impossible to pull off given current technology. At the end of the day, Lee thinks designers need to bear some responsibility and try to find a way to work with Samsung that doesn’t involve giving the company a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum.

Be sure to check out Fast Company’s full interview by clicking here.

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.