• 1944 June 05
    (b.) - ?


A German-American industrial designer and inventor, he is known for his design company Frogdesign, a global innovation firm he co-founded in 1969 with partners Andreas Haug and Georg Spreng in Mutlangen, Germany as "Esslinger Design". Soon after it moved to Altensteig, Germany, and then to Palo Alto, California, and ultimately to its current headquarters in San Francisco, California. The name was changed to Frogdesign in 1982 (the name an acronym for his home, the Federal Republic of Germany), then to Frog Design in 2000, and finally to frog in 2011. He was born in Beuren (Simmersfeld), in Germany's Black Forest. At age 25, he finished his studies at the Hochschule f?r Gestaltung Schw?bisch Gm?nd in Schw?bisch Gm?nd. After vicious criticism of a radio clock he designed while in school, he started his own design agency in 1969, later renamed Frogdesign. For his first client, German avant-garde consumer electronics company Wega, he created the first "full plastics" color TV and HiFi series "Wega system 3000". His work for Wega won him instant international fame. In 1974, he was hired by Sony which also acquired Wega shortly after - and he was instrumental in creating a global design image for Sony, especially with the Sony Trinitron and personal music products. The Sony-Wega Music System Concept 51K was chosen by the Museum of Modern Art, New York. As of 1976, he also worked for Louis Vuitton. In 1982 he entered into an exclusive $1,000,000 per year contract with Apple Computer to create a design strategy which transformed Apple from a "Silicon Valley Start-Up" into a global brand. Setting up shop in California for the first time, he and Frogdesign created the "Snow White design language" which was applied to all Apple product lines from 1984 to 1990, commencing with the Apple IIc and including the Macintosh computer. The original Apple IIc was acquired by the Whitney Museum of Art in New York and Time voted it Design of the Year. He broke his own contract with Apple soon after Steve Jobs' departure, and followed Jobs to NeXT. Other major client engagements include Lufthansa's global design and brand strategy, SAP's corporate identity and software user interface, Microsoft Windows branding and user interface design, Siemens, NEC, Olympus, HP, Motorola and General Electric. In December 1990 he was featured on the cover of BusinessWeek, the only living designer thus honored since Raymond Loewy in 1934. He is a founding Professor of the Hochschule fuer Gestaltung in Karlsruhe, Germany and since 2006 he is a Professor for convergent industrial design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of Fine Arts by the Parsons School of Design, New York. In 2009 he published A Fine Line in which he explores business solutions that are environmentally sustainable and contribute to an enduring global economy. In recent years, Frogdesign has survived two acquisitions. In 2006 it was purchased by Flextronics. Soon afterwards it was purchased by the leveraged buyout firm KKR as part of a group of several Flextronics units and packaged into a software company called Aricent. He is a DeTao Master of Industrial Design with The Beijing DeTao Masters Academy (DTMA) in Shanghai, China. Among his publications are: ?Hartmut Esslinger und frogdesign? with Uta Brandes, 1992 Steidl Verlag, G?ttingen, ISBN 3-88243-215-2; ?Frog: Form Follows Emotion? (Cutting Edge S.) von Fay Sweet, 1999 Thames and Hudson Ltd., ISBN 0-500-01917-7; Frogdesign von Hartmut Esslinger und Volker Fischer, 2000 Edition Axel Menges, ISBN 3-930698-05-6; and ?A Fine Line: How Design Strategies Are Shaping the Future of Business?, 2009 Jossey-Bass, ISBN 0-470-45102-5.
  • Date of Birth:

    1944 June 05
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  • Noted For:

    Creator of a design strategy which transformed Apple from a "Silicon Valley Start-Up" into a global brand
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