Man Behind Samsung's MacBook Air Killer Talks Design, Inspiration

Ever since we got our first glimpse at CES, we've been eagerly anticipating the Samsung 9 Series, one ultra-slim ultraportable. The 9 Series is thinner (0.64 inches), lighter (2.89 pounds) and arguably better looking than the MacBook Air. Starting at $1,599, this luxury machine also has some features Apple's offering doesn't, including a backlit keyboard and a SuperBright Plus display that beams out 400 nits and offers 160-degree viewing angles. The flowing lines of the 9 Series take aesthetic cues from a sports car. And this notebook is strong, too: It’s made of Duralumin (the material used to make advanced aircraft), which is twice as strong as aluminum.

We had a chance to sit down with the 9 Series lead designer, Yeowan Yun, to get some insight on the making of this dream machine.

What is the key design concept of the 9 Series design?

Yeowan Yun: The central concept lies in the idea of the flowing arch. Essentially, I wanted to express the sophisticated beauty of a flowing line. With these lines, the feeling of speed and power is maximized. Looking at the sleek and slim side of the product I believe you can find a natural flow, which was styled to add an aerodynamic feel to the product. These lines provide a speedy feeling and sleek style like a premium sports car.

Who or what gave you inspiration for this product?

Y: The concept has been inspired by all manner of natural flowing elements such as waterfalls, streams and rivers, as well as flowing manmade structures such as arches.

Why did you choose Duralumin for the 9 Series? Where there any challenges?

Y: Duralumin is a strong, reliable, and lightweight material normally used in advanced aircraft. Therefore we strongly believed Duralumin would be a wonderful material to use for a premium laptop.

In striving for a thinner notebook there were several challenges to overcome -- most notably the complex manufacturing process as a result of it being such a strong material. In terms of the assembly, the LCD is not a separate piece, it's one module from the beginning. As Duralumin hasn’t been used for commercial laptops previously, we also had to undergo an intensive testing process until we were happy with the final feel and coloring of the material.

We've noticed even with netbooks and budget systems Samsung strives for eye-catching design. Are the less-expensive systems going to go more toward the aesthetic of the 9 Series?

Y: In this high end market, we're focused on a very flat form type of design. There's a specific design language that we want to use for the high-end products. But for the mainstream budget products the design language and methodology may be a bit different because the users are also different. When we look at the 9 Series and other notebooks in this similar segment, we'll probably go towards this type of design approach [you see here]. That's the basic direction. But, of course, we strive for design excellence in both areas.

You talked about design language -- what do you want Samsung high-end notebooks to say to consumers?

Y: When we design our products, we strive for two objectives. The first is design with humanism, the second is design that has storytelling in it. When we design our products, we don’t focus on the first impression of the product, per se, we focus on the experience that the user will have while actually using it. We want it to be a discovery process, where the user continuously discovers something that they like about the product and feel that they're using a Samsung. The ultimate objective of our designs is to complete the lifestyle of the users.