2022 ALL STAR | DESIGN
Executive vice president of design, Hyundai Motor Co.
The litany of design awards snagged by Hyundai and Genesis in 2022 is probably too long to list, but here’s a short sampling: nine honors in the International Forum Design Awards, four in the Good Design Awards and two “Best of Best” and six “Winners” in the Red Dots.
SangYup Lee, global head of design at Hyundai and Genesis, has put both brands on the map for smart, sophisticated, futuristic styling that ushers in a new era for the South Korean company.
The daring looks, exemplified by such head turners as the Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60 all-electric crossovers, perfectly support the steady upmarket move by both marques.
The Ioniq 5 with its pixelated, geometrically creased body exudes an aura more mobile gadget than motorcar, while the sveltely rounded GV60 oozes all the emotion of premium performance.
Lee, a 53-year-old veteran of General Motors, Volkswagen and Bentley, broke the mold after landing at Hyundai in 2016. Out went the cookie-cutter “family look” of old ho-hum Hyundai, where different nameplates looked like shrunk-down or scaled-up versions of each other.
Lee’s trick was giving each model its own identity while maintaining a common brand air that magically transcends the lineup. Look no further than the contrast between the angular Ioniq 5 and streamlined, jelly bean-shaped Ioniq 6 sedan for a taste of that animated design dynamic.
Other entries, such as Hyundai’s monolithic Staria van or refined Palisade crossover as well as the Genesis G70 Shooting Brake, speak to the creative energy unleashed under Lee’s leadership.
“We are changing it from a ‘Yes, sir!’ organization to a ‘Why not?’ organization,” Lee said in a 2019 interview about the change. “This virus is spreading, little by little.”
Hyundai and Genesis are now reaping the rewards of that long-coming image makeover.