From Paper to Stone – How Samsung Product Designs Are Inspired

on October 7, 2011
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What types of clothes will be in fashion this winter? What kinds of electronic gadgets will be released next year? What are the market trends that will dominate the technology industry three years from now? We would like to share another article from Samsung Village, about how creative ideas, innovative designs, and high technical solutions are born at Samsung Electronics Corporate Design Center.


Figuring out customers’ needs in advance and getting prepared for the future is important for a company, sometimes to a point where its very survival depends on it. But, that’s more easily said than done – especially, when it comes to design, which has become such a critical element in product manufacturing but is prone to fast-changing consumer whims.


Exploring new materials that could meet the ever reforming needs of consumers and adopting them to innovative designs is one of the major tasks being undertaken at Samsung Electronics’ Corporate Design Center. And at the heart of the center is the CMF Library – short for color, material and finishing – where designers and engineers explore ideas looking at various samples of colors and materials.



Welcome to the CMF Library – where we study Samsung’s look and feel 


From a letter opener made out of paper to crystal-studded earphones, anything can be an inspiration here at the CMF Library. The eclectic collection of creative products and fun designs provide ample resources for designers and engineers to explore various design concepts and practical ways of applying them to products.


So how is that done exactly? We pulled aside Sookyung Kahng, a principal designer at the center, for a few minutes of her time to find out.



Q. Tell us a little bit about what you do at Corporate Design Center.


A. We mainly study and predict future trends of design to decide which direction Samsung should go in terms of product designs. We, then, share that idea with some 1,000 designers in each of Samsung’s product segments and help them adopt that concept to new products.



Q. How do you come up with an idea on which design path Samsung should take in making its products?


A. We have six research centers globally. Each of them conducts its own research into what we call emotional values, elements that would appeal to consumers in two or three years’ time. We, then, get together to review our separate studies and find commonalities. The selected emotional values – which would be a gauge of consumer taste two years from now – are then shared among Samsung designers and become the basis for a common design theme for all product sectors.



Q. What are the factors you consider in exploring design themes?


A. In the past, we first designed shapes of products and then moved on to discuss what colors should be applied. But from about five years ago, more importance has been attached to colors and materials themselves. Colors and materials are now important elements to be considered from the initial stage of product designs, along with shapes, and we have about 50 designers dedicated to studying them.




Sookyung showed us a couple of Samsung products that were born out of this intricate process, which won prizes in the iF material award 2010 for their innovative designs.



ST5500(CL80) Digital Camera: It all started with a concept that people associate bigger lenses with better photo quality. Samsung was first to apply hydroforming technology to a product as small as a camera to create protruding curves around the lens to make the lens appear bigger.


Hydroforming is a way of shaping metals using high pressure hydraulic fluid, enabling the design of complicated forms in a single process, and is often applied in manufacturing automobiles. The slanted placement of the shutter button also attests the ST5500(CL80)’s ergonomic design.



G-Series External HDD: Under the design concept of nature, the hard drive’s surface was decorated with patterns that change with light to create a shimmering effect – just like the dew-dropped leaf wavering in the breeze.


Ombrae 3D pixel optical tiles were used to make the surface glitter, also removing the need for a painting. This, along with the use of environment-friendly plastic, makes the G-Series HDD a very eco-friendly product, not just in concept, but also in practice.




Q. Finally – what projects are under way at the design center currently?


A. One of our missions is to create images of nature on our electronic products. We are working closely with other designers and engineers to find a way to glaze the electronic goods’ typical mechanical feel with intuitive warmth.


The chat with Sookyung helped us understand how designers and engineers get inspirations and work those into products we appreciate. It will be very interesting to see what kind of fresh ideas and design innovations sprout at the CMF Library in the future!


Corporate > Design

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