Hartmut Esslinger

frog design founder


Good design is not just beautiful or fashionable, but must be identical and consistent in creating social belonging.

Hartmut Esslinger is a legend in industrial design. He does not believe that form should follow function, but rather that “form follows emotion.” From the first fully plastic television sets designed for WEGA, to early versions of the Apple computer conceived in collaboration with Steve Jobs, Esslinger has made his mark on the industrial world and the general public by designing human-driven consumer products over the past half-century.

With global brand giants under his belt the likes of Sony, IBM, Lufthansa, Microsoft, Olympus, Motorola, Siemens, Hewlett-Packard, General Electric and even Louis Vuitton, Esslinger’s work has influenced generations of consumers and inspired countless contemporary designers. Esslinger co-founded the Karlsruhe College of Design in Germany in 1990, was the professor for Industrial Design at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and is currently a DeTao professor at Fudan/SIVA University in Shanghai.

His world-renowned design firm, frog continues to develop products based on his philosophy that both technology development and human desire need to be taken into consideration when creating a product because any product experience is a personal one. Esslinger has said that design won’t change the world, but that “Designers can change the world” and it is with that notion we are happy to present Mr. Esslinger with the World Design Medal for his accomplishments and contributions to the international industrial design scene, on the occasion of World Industrial Design Day.

Press Release

28 June 2017

World Design Organization to Present WDO World Design Medal to Hartmut Esslinger

The World Design Organization has named Hartmut Esslinger, founder of frogdesign, as the recipient of the WDO World Design Medal for his exceptional and significant contribution to the profession of industrial design.

“The decision was unanimous,” noted Brandon Gien, Senate Convenor of the WDO Senate Selection Committee. “Esslinger’s body of work is revolutionary, particularly around the guiding principle of emotion before form, which has defined the modern consumer aesthetic.”

“He is a legend in industrial design, renowned for his collaboration with Steve Jobs and Apple,” said WDO President Mugendi M’Rithaa. “We were very much impressed by Esslinger’s global reach and his continued influence among young industrial designers today.”

The announcement comes on World Industrial Design Day, celebrated every 29 June around the world to raise awareness of industrial design and its role in effecting positive change. Esslinger will accept the World Design Medal and give a keynote presentation at the 30th WDO General Assembly in Torino, Italy from 14-15 October 2017.

WDO launched the WDO World Design Medal in celebration of its 60th anniversary and to showcase exceptional industrial designers from around the globe who are driving positive change in the world through design. A Selection Committee, made up of our active Senators, selects the recipient following an open call for nominations.


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