Bentley’s Head of Exterior and Advanced Design, Sangyup Lee, will join Hyundai as Vice President of Design, the company announced today. He will start his new position in June.
Lee’s new role will have him oversee Hyundai’s design strategies and lead design innovations in areas of interior and exterior design as well as color and materials for both Hyundai Motor and the new Genesis premium sub-brand from the Korean automaker’s Design Center near Seoul.
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“The innovative design and surprising growth of Hyundai Motor has always made me proud as a Korean while I worked overseas,” Lee said in a statement. “Now, I want to contribute in creating world-leading automobile designs for both Hyundai Motor and the Genesis brand.”
The move will also see him reunited with Luc Donckerwolke, his former boss at Bentley, who left to head up the Genesis brand in his role as Senior Vice President of Design at the start of the year.
“[Sangyup] Lee has proven himself as one of the world’s best automobile designers in the global platform,” said Donckerwolke. “His design philosophy to pursue new challenges and innovations matches the DNA of Hyundai Motor.”
A graduate of Hongik University and Art Center College of Design, Lee is well known in the industry. He began his career as an intern at Pininfarina and Porsche before joining General Motors in 1999, where he worked on the Corvette C6 production program. After being promoted to lead designer, he worked on Buick Velite production program as well as the Velite concept (at Bertone in Italy) and the Cadillac Sixteen concept.
But it was the Camaro production program and special editions that really put Sangyup on the map. He went down to General Motors’ Holden studio in Australia to follow the program through to production and a thinly veiled concept vehicle was shown in 2005. He later designed the Corvette Stingray concept.
In 2010 he joined Volkswagen Group’s advanced design center in Santa Monica, CA, as chief designer, overseeing concept and production programs for Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley before moving to England to become Head of Exterior and Advanced Design at Bentley in 2012.
Under Donckerwolke’s direction, Lee led the exterior and advanced design teams in the creation of the Bentley EXP10 Speed6 concept as well as the production Bentayga, the ultra luxury brand’s first SUV.
Lee’s appointment to further Hyundai Motor and the Genesis brand design efforts from the company’s main studio alongside Luc Donckerwolke and former Lamborghini brand and marketing director Manfred Fitzgerald is a clear signifier of the brand’s ambitions in the luxury sector, and one that will certainly bear fruit in the coming years.