Hartmut Esslinger

Hartmut Esslinger was born at Altensteig in the Black Forest in 1945. He studied electrical engineering at Stuttgart University before switching to industrial design at the Fachhochschule in Schwäbisch Gmünd (1966-1969). In 1969 Hartmut Esslinger founded a design agency in Altensteig, which became Frogdesign in 1982. “Frog” is an acronym for “Federal Republic of Germany”.


The story of Hartmut Esslinger and Frogdesign sounds like a fairy tale because they have been far more successful than most designers ever dream of being. The clientele of Frogdesign, which by now has branches in six countries, reads like a “Who’s Who” of global big business, including Apple Computers, Coca Cola, Dell Computers, Deutsche Bank, Disney, Ford, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Kodak, Lufthansa, Microsoft, Logitech, Nike, Motorola, Philips, SAP, Sony, Yamaha, Zeiss, and many other illustrious names. Some of Hartmut Esslinger’s greatest successes were his designs for Wega (his first client). In the early 1970s Hartmut Esslinger designed the model “3020” and “3071” television sets and, in 1975, the “Concept 51K” hi-fi for Wega, which was bought by Sony in. 1975.


For Sony, Hartmut Esslinger designed the Trinitron television set in 1979. In 1982 Hartmut Esslinger opened a branch in Campbell, California; his work for Apple Computers was the breakthrough for him. In 1982 Hartmut Esslinger designed the snow-white chassis for the Apple Macintosh SE, which redefined computer chassis design. In 1986 Hartmut Esslinger opened a branch in Tokyo. By now Hartmut Esslinger employes a workforce of over 200. In his designs, Hartmut Esslinger strives to unite functionalist line with an approach that addresses the emotions and is culturally relevant. The Frogdesign slogan “Form follows emotion” is rightly famous since – as Hartmut Esslinger says – “Things do not stand alone but for us. For human beings with a history and a need to realize themselves in objects.”