Why you should become a Product Designer now – Jongho LEE (SAMSUNG Art and Design Institute)

Jongho Lee cakepower Seoul Korea Sadi Samsung Art and Design Institute

Jongho LEE (on the left) // Samsung Art & Design Institute

Hello, it’s Chou-Tac,
Today we travel to South-Korea!
Let’s meet up with JONGHO LEE!

I am glad he accepted today interview as he has a precious point of view about Why you should become a Product Designer now. : ) 

He has the willingness to share with us his experience
as the Director of programs and professor at the Samsung Art & Design Institute (SADI), a great Design school from Seoul!

And he’s totally passionate about Industrial Design Sketching!

I have the chance to know Jongho LEE since he’s a VIP member of my design sketching course SKETCH LIKE THE PROS.


1. Jongho LEE,
Can you please tell us about you?

I am Jongho Lee from Seoul, Korea 
where the lifestyles of people are quite labor-intensive.
Shops and stores with fast-fashion, foods, and technologies are open 24 hours/7 days.
I am the kind of person who enjoys a busy lifestyle in Seoul.

I think I always loved making new things.

I started to make computer games as a young boy, learned HCI/UI/UX in a design school, and then worked as a strategic designer in the field of web/mobile UI/UX industries for years.
As I got older, I found myself interested in designing IoT products were tangible things should be designed and combined with UI/UX design.
Seoul_Night-View-of-Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza_(c)Virgile-Simon-Bertrand.jpg

Seoul // Dongdaemun-Design-Plaza by Zaha Hadid // Photo (c)Virgile-Simon-Bertrand


2. What is your role at
SAMSUNG Art & Design Institute?

I am working at SADI (Samsung Art and Design Institute)
dedicated to art and design education since 1995, where developing new curriculums are always welcomed.
Recently, I am dedicated to developing a new design course – Service System Design – where students are encouraged to explore new possibilities of things with a systematic approach in mind.

I believe that product/space should be designed first to reflect the customers’ lifestyles and emotional status and then technologies follow to support the customers’ experiences.

Last semester, students took ‘3dprinting’ class and students came up with new ideas of the lighting system using 3dprinting technologies. These are some of the images that they have made during the course.
Boro project SADI Samsung Art and Design Institute product design a

‘3dprinting’ class at SADI – Design Language

Boro project SADI Samsung Art and Design Institute product design b

‘3dprinting’ class at SADI – Volume

Boro project SADI Samsung Art and Design Institute product design

‘3dprinting’ class at SADI – 3D Printing


3. How did you discover your passion for Design? How it all started?

I love making new things.

It started to make something with computers.
Firstly. I started with small computer games, computer graphics (as my master’s degree), then web development/UI/UX.
Recently, I happened to know an artist Joris Laarman.” 
He is a great artist and designer successfully integrating digital fabrication techniques in his form of designing. I am so excited about looking at his works.

I think designers are the ones who should be able to utilize new technology to make something unique. This is my passion for design.

I would love to create something unique with the help of new technology. 

Now that I am equipped with the technology part, I thought I need to learn more about sketching and spend more time with form making to achieve my passion. 

I took the online sketching course from this year and taking the course was a definitely smart choice in my case.

I feel confident about making new things now.

SADI Samsung Art and design Institute design school product design a

SADI – Samsung Art & Design Institute, Korea Seoul 


4. What makes you excited about design?

I think a good design is for two things.
Through design, people can realize or have a better understanding of what makes a real human.  People sometimes recognize who we are as humans by looking at amazing products or just by using them.
Secondly, a design should serve mankind. It can be used to save a thousand tons of food wastes, plastic wastes, water wastes, and so on.  
These are the real beauty of the design. I am so excited about the nature of the good design.

5. Why design is so important in Korea?

I think the role of design has changed dramatically in Korea.
The design used to serve as an innovation tool for large companies like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai Motors.
But it becomes more general everyday issues.
People got more aware of the importance of design and tried to embrace the goodness of design into their ordinary life. 
As an innovation tool, the design worked to generate new things, new functions, and new forms. Always fresh. And somehow it enforces consumers to work in a certain way substituting their exiting lifestyle.
However, the society got more mature, people start to realize new things are not always right. So, people want to build their own lifestyles instead of following new trends all the time. 

Design in Korea used to be a mass-product oriented approach_ so developing new concepts and delivering these new concepts through the commercial marketing campaign and then production was the primary design process and rules for years.   

It is changing now.
Design in Korea is far more in a mass_customization era.

Designers got more into Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Behance. They are more on the quality of the forms, lines, materials _ so to speak more emotional than logical.  

6. How important are
sketching skills for designers ?

Sketching should be the necessary skill for any designer.

Sometimes, students wonder if the computer modeler can replace the sketching. However, based on my personal experience, sketching is a type of human skill that can be practiced and improved.

Through the sketching practice, parts of your visionary brain can be activated, trained, and switched on. And by developing a habit of sketching a day, you will be motivated to create something way creative.


7. What are the qualities you are looking for in a student to become a great designer ?

Students have to be a great storyteller.

People are buying great stories and designers are the one who puts stories in the products. And they have to explain transparently.
Products shouldn’t be just stylish and trendy.
I want students to understand the power of story when designing products/services.

8 Do you think anyone
can learn how to sketch?

Designers communicate their initial concepts and ideas through sketches.

It is an iterative and internal process that any designer should learn. 
Sketching is somehow like a body language. People know how to move their bodies to communicate with someone when they were young.
But as people got older, they lose their ability to use their body language since they are not using them anymore. 
Sketching is like body language.
We loved drawings and paintings when we were a child, yet as we got older, we are not using them anymore to express our thoughts and feelings. Sketching is about how to use your body precisely.
It is all about learning the right movement in a step-by-step procedure.


9. If you had 1 advice to give to a an aspiring designer (who don’t dare to pursue his dream to become a designer).

What would you tell him ?

The design is a great job, always fulfilling.

As technologies (such as AI) got mature, people will spend more time creating something, leaving management jobs to AI.

“I think it is getting a great time to be a designer ever than before.”

Tell your stories with sketching, express your thoughts and feelings with sketches, and make something new for mankind.

These are the designers’ life.
It will be fun and fulfilling than ever before.


Thank you Jonhgo LEE
for your precious and inspiring insights!

If you aspire to become a Product Designer,
I hope his journey resonates in your heart.

I hope it shows you how being a designer is a beautiful journey
following the goal of making a better world.

Jongho’s insider view reminds me how as an industrial designer we have a decisive role in our environment and excitement in our lives.

I like to think we are like the scenarist of life.

Creativity offers meaningful experiences to people.

I also feel grateful for all the work made by the designers around the world who create all the objects that surround us (Phone, computer, tables, jewelry, pens, water bottles, drones, …) who plan and create the future.

Like how Jongho LEE mentioned,
it’s amazing with the great support of innovation and technology. 

Once again,
If you are interested in joining my design course SKETCH LIKE THE PROS like how Jongho LEE did, remember to join now the Waiting list.

See you for the next design article or tutorial!
Take care.
// Chou-Tac


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About The Author

Chou-Tac

Hello! My name is Chou-Tac. I am a Product Designer from France. If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my industrial design career, I believe that they can also help you reach your design goal as a student or professional. My aim to help you all along with your design projects and journey. Anytime, feel free to leave a comment in the blog or send me an email at choutac@thedesignsketchbook.com : )

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