The history of the industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger and Frogdesign, his design firm, is a success story of the kind very few designers even dream of, let alone actually experience. The clientele of Frogdesign, which now has branches in six countries, reads like a "Who's Who" of global big business. Born in Altensteig in the Black Forest in 1945, Hartmut Esslinger studied electrical engineering at Stuttgart University before going on to study industrial design at the Fachhochschule in Schwäbisch Gmünd.
In 1969 Hartmut Esslinger established a design agency in Altensteig, which became the Frogdesign company in 1982. "Frog" is an acronym for "Federal Republic of Germany".
Hartmut Esslinger's greatest hits include his designs for Wega (his first client), a firm bought by Sony in 1975. In the 1970s Hartmut Esslinger designed the "3020" and "3071" television sets and the elegant "Concept 51K" hi-fi dates from 1975. Hartmut Esslinger designed the Trinitron television set for Sony in 1979. In 1982 Hartmut Esslinger opened a branch in Campbell, California, and began to work for Apple Computers. In 1982 Hartmut Esslinger designed the snow-white chassis for the Apple Macintosh SE, thus redefining computer chassis aesthetics.
In 1986 a Hartmut Esslinger branch was opened in Tokyo, followed by others. By now Hartmut Esslinger employs a workforce of 200. In his designs, Hartmut Esslinger tries to enlarge the scope of a functionalist line to embrace an emotional and culturally sensitive approach.
The Frogdesign slogan, "Form follows emotion", has become famous since - as Hartmut Esslinger puts it - "Things don't stand alone but for us. For human beings with a history and the need to realize themselves in objects."