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Design CEOs Are in the Spotlight

Posted July. 06, 2005 00:37,   


Why Design?-

Apple Computer was once declining and its founder Steve Jobs came up with a prescription: “Let the designers make the designs and engineers follow them.”

With designer Jonathan Ive’s “nude” computer iMac and iPod, an MP3 player, Apple revived magnificently.

It was the Razr that let Motorola retrieve second position from Samsung Electronics in the world mobile market last year. The “slimmest cell phone in the world” designed by designer Jim Wicks got world consumers excited.

The story in which President Yang Duk-jun of Reigncom visited CEO Kim of Innodesign with no definite object and asked for a design is famous. Iriver was thus produced, and Reigncom became a world-class enterprise in the field of MP3 players.

Experts judge that design has become the most important factor that consumers consider because the functions and quality of products have become similar.

Design First-

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee picked design as the ultimate battlefield in 21st Century corporate management. Samsung Electronics announced 1996 as a “year for a design revolution” and even made a position called CDO – Chief Design Officer.

LG Electronics’ Whisen is a hit which has enjoyed the top position in the world air conditioner market. When making the Whisen, the “design-first suggestion activity” was applied in which they design first before thinking of the functions. LG has recently decided to extend this system to all of its products.

The value of design executives in other industries are also surging. Many companies now have official CDOs and the demand for relevant workers is also increasing.

Where to Learn?-

Harvard University and Stanford in the United States went further to add the concept of MFA (master of fine arts) programs and are nurturing “design CEOs.”

Graduate-level courses which combine management and design have emerged since the late 1990s in Korea as well.

To begin with, the Graduate Institute of Management in the Seoul School of Integrated Science & Technologies provides an international design management major in its KEMBA (Korean Executive MBA) course, which it is operating with the Helsinki School of Economics’ MBA program.

CEO Min Bok-ki of EXR Korea, a fashion company, is a graduate of the KEMBA and explained, “I was able to have an advanced management mind by converging design with new management theories.”

Hongik, Sungkyunkwan, and Ewha Women’s universities also have design management courses in their graduate schools of design.

Suk-Min Hong smhong@donga.com