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Kia announces new Senior Chief Designers as heads of Global Design Centres

Kia Corporation has announced the appointment of new Senior Chief Designers Oliver Samson and Seungmo Lim as respective heads of its Europe and China Design Centres, effective 1 April 2024.

With a wealth of experience drawn from tenures at some of the world’s most recognisable automotive brands, the arrivals reinforce Kia’s dedication to impactful design and the proliferation of its ‘Opposites United’ philosophy.

The new roles will see Samson and Lim lead their teams in collaborating and competing with the brand’s other globally located regional Design Centres to develop the next generation of Kia designs, concepts, materials, and models. This work is crucial in supporting the brand’s main design hub in Namyang, Korea, which undertakes all aspects of car design from planning and conceptualisation to styling, modelling, colour, and material development.

Kia announces new Senior Chief Designers as heads of Global Design Centres, strengthening the impact of design under ‘Opposites United’ philosophy

Speaking on the announcement of the appointments, Executive Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design, Karim Habib, said: “I am incredibly excited to welcome Seungmo and Oliver to their new leadership positions within the Kia Design team. By uniting a diverse team of talented individuals with unique perspectives, we can truly embody the philosophy behind Opposites United, better allowing us to deliver truly inspirational and impactful design.”

After beginning his career as an Exterior Designer at the Hyundai & Kia Motor European Design Centre, Oliver Samson returns to the brand from his role as Head of Innovation Design Platform at the Changan European Design Centre in Italy. Having additionally held the position of Exterior Design Director at NIO and spent over a decade within the Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design Team, his arrival will further strengthen Kia’s already influential Design Centre in Europe.

“I am very happy to have the opportunity to join the Kia Design team here in Europe during a time of significant transformation in the industry. I’ve always admired Kia for its talented and forward-thinking global design team,” said Samson. “Now, I am thrilled and honoured to become part of this team, to share my perspective and contribute to this fascinating brand. Most of all, I really look forward to working alongside its talented creatives and leaders in order to develop Kia‘s design further, together.”

Arriving from a position as Vice Head of Innovation Design for Geely Automobile, and with over a decade of experience within BMW’s Munich design department, Seungmo Lim is a recipient of honours including the iF Design Award and a gold German Design Award. With Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Transportation Design, his unique perspective will be invaluable to Kia Design Centre China as the brand continues its transition to becoming a Sustainable Mobility Solutions Provider.

Kia announces new Senior Chief Designers as heads of Global Design Centres, strengthening the impact of design under ‘Opposites United’ philosophy

“It is a great honour to join Kia Design at a time when the industry is facing many dynamic changes and challenges. Together with a creative and talented team, we will strive to enhance Kia’s design competitiveness by incorporating future values into its progressive design philosophy. Through this process, we hope to contribute to the continued important role of the Kia China Design Centre.” said Lim.

Taking inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity, Opposites United seeks to find synergies through seemingly opposing concepts. Based on five key design pillars – Bold for Nature, Joy for Reason, Power to Progress, Technology for Life, and Tension for Serenity – the award-winning philosophy can be clearly seen at work in the Kia EV6 and EV9, and will inform all of the brand’s future products.

The appointments of Samson and Lim demonstrate Kia’s belief that Opposites United should not be applied solely to the final forms of its vehicles, but to the processes and people which create them too. By uniting the contrasting perspectives, experiences, beliefs, and opinions of its worldwide team of design pioneers, the brand aims to create products with universal relevance and appeal.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa