A Design Partnership That Changed Electronics
An influential and award-winning long-term collaboration between Samsung and IDEO
Since the early 1990s, Samsung and IDEO have shared a history of influential and award-winning collaboration. Together, the two companies have worked on more than 50 projects, the offerings created by this partnership spanning a broad spectrum, from a series of conceptual multimedia devices to industry-changing monitors, TVs, laptops, mobile phones and interfaces, computer peripherals, and mobile platform strategies. But beyond the design of products brought to their global market, the Samsung/IDEO partnership used the human-centered design approach to produce the innovation that ended up transforming the electronics giant’s entire business.
After years of being an industry fast-follower, Samsung approached IDEO with the idea of an immersive cultural exchange. Samsung designers, marketers, and strategists came to Palo Alto and set up a studio near IDEO to learn everything they could from the US consumer market and IDEO’s design approach. Together, the teams began to design groundbreaking electronics products, while using design thinking to look at the entire business through a new lens. By putting users at the center of the process, and beginning to understand their needs and emerging behaviors, Samsung found it could not only satisfy existing customers, but also begin to anticipate market shifts. This tipping point led Samsung to evolve into a market leader.
The SyncMaster 400TFT LCD Flat Panel Display.
Samsung and IDEO created a design powerhouse, following a journey from designing products to services to experiences, interactions, and innovation that moved Samsung away from consumer electronics toward an even bigger market of back-end services and interactive and systems-based services.
Culturally, the partnership with IDEO has helped Samsung adopt new ways to integrate internal teams, a human-centered design approach and iterative prototyping, and the methodologies to merge technology and design to create a leading-edge consumer line and brand. As evidence of Samsung’s rise to being one of the world’s largest design-driven companies, the company has more than doubled its internal design teams since 2000, according to the article “Samsung Design” in BusinessWeek Online.
Some of the projects include:
LCD Computer monitors
Samsung and IDEO created the industry-standard 970P and 971P monitors, featuring clean surfaces, contrasting textures, and a simple design for a premium look and feel. Designed with IDEO founder Mike Nuttall, they won both the 2009 iF Award and a 2007 IDEA Gold award.
Brand awareness for Samsung Memory
Wanting to raise awareness about Samsung Memory’s products that enhance the performance of electronic devices, IDEO and Samsung designed a humorous campaign that highlighted consumers’ need for Samsung Memory.
Samsung Memory tackles low battery, long loading time, and crashing problems.
SimpleMedia and TotalMedia home entertainment concepts
IDEO and Samsung designed two concepts: SimpleMedia combined a computer, television, DVD, fax, and telephone; TotalMedia featured an adjustable screen and LCD projector combination. Although neither was ever produced, they were honored with design awards from ID Magazine and BusinessWeek, respectively.
SyncMaster 400TFT Flat Panel Display
Samsung and IDEO designed the SyncMaster LCD flatscreen multimedia monitor to be thin and elegant, and it garnered several design awards in Korea, Germany, and the U.S. The British magazine T3 called it “the sexiest monitor we’ve ever seen.”