Samsung to overhaul design

The closure of Samsung’s European Design Centre in Brentford could lead to a new design operation being set up to oversee the electronic giant’s UK output.

Samsung, which is substantially cutting output in the US and south-east Asia, says the move is intended to improve efficiency. The European marketing headquarters in Brentford will also close as Samsung cuts back pan-European functions.

“There may be a design operation set up in the UK, side-by-side with the Seoul headquarters, to look after Samsung’s design interest in this country. We are deciding if we can handle it from Korea,” says a company spokesman.

The European Design Centre in Brentford operates a preferred supplier list which includes Fitch, Ideo, Pentagram, Italian group Design Continuum and Porsche in Austria. It also uses other UK groups intermittently. All work on product design.

The centre’s in-house design team has dwindled from five last year to two. Design manager Clive Grinyer left in May to join Fitch.

A second Samsung spokesman says: “The move [to South Korea] could lead to up to 33 potential redundancies, including the design team, but Samsung aims to offer as many of these staff as possible alternative employment within the Samsung Group.”

He says the European Design Centre will probably close in a month’s time and expects Samsung to make a decision regarding the UK design operation in around two months.

Samsung’s pan-European design elements will now be managed by the 200-strong in-house team at its South Korean headquarters. This includes design managers and designers in packaging, graphics and products.

Pentagram product designer Peter Tennant and Ideo director Tim Brown, who had not heard from Samsung at the time of going to press, say that most of their European work emanated from Seoul anyway.

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