In a field where the players are not known for letting grass grow under their feet, Hyundai Motor America Inc.’s chief U.S. designer is heading back to General Motors Co. after less than two years.

Sources confirmed late Friday Phillip Zak, who was named chief designer of the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, CA, in April 2009, has left the auto maker to head back to GM.

Zak, who was in Detroit in January touting Hyundai’s Curb concept vehicle, still maintains a home in the Detroit area. He reportedly was lured back to Michigan by GM Global Design Chief Ed Welburn.

Zak started his career at GM in 1988 and spent 20 years at the Detroit auto maker, most recently as design director for General Motors Europe where he was responsible for Opel and Saab exterior production design work and future strategies.

At Hyundai, Zak replaced Joel Piaskowski, who left in late 2008 to head Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design of North America. Piaskowski since has moved on from that position.

dwinter@wardsauto.com