What I learned from frogdesign

What I learned from frogdesign

Written by Franzi Sessler, DMBA C7


Today was a big day for the MANIFESTO conference. I had big expectations after reading the event description: »Manifesto is the leading conference for product design. Some of the most progressive companies in design and technology will be coming together to share, learn, and collaborate.«

When I saw the founders of frog design would present I had to get myself a ticket , I wasn’t taking no for an answer!


Whats the big deal?

Hartmut Esslinger is probably one of Germany’s best known designers. In 1969 he founded the famous design firm frogdesign. What started as a »garage startup« became a world leading design empire.

Esslinger is the genius and designer behind the global brand Apple.  In 1982, frogdesign came up with the »Snow White Design Language« which has been the catalyst to the design direction we know today.

Esslinger also disrupted the design world by openly criticizing the internationally practiced concept of »Form Follows Function« and replacing it with »Form Follows Emotion«. This movement was the first to put humans in the centre of the design, rather than function and beauty. (Music in a DMBAers ear, right?)


Growing Slow

Hartmut Esslinger and Patricia Roller, the co-founder of frog, opened the conference with an overly inspirational talk on »Growing Slow«.

*Here are my key takeaways:

1 – Learn from the dark side

Don’t hate. Learn from it. Patricia Roller worked in the banking industry and gained valuable insights.

2 – Design should not be taught in art schools

but DESIGN schools Esslingen pointed out, that art and design are very different things! And it’s so true!

3 – Be BOLD

frogdesign planned on being a global brand from the beginning on. They designed their decisions based on their goal. »Yes, we were a garage startup aswell. But we invested in the right things! Good Equipment!«

4 – Promote the hell out of your concept

Take your concept and promote the »hell out of it!« When frog jumped into the cyberspace with their first »digital« client SAP they just stated internationally »we are digital now too!« Spread the word.

5 – Dream big and just design the future

Sounds easy. But that’s what frogdesign did. Do your design research, observe the market, know your humans and dream big! By doing so you can predict the future. If not you – who else? Dream big and design the future. It’s in our hands!

6 – Become the best in the world

and believe in yourself. If no one believes in you and you’re ideas, you’re doing the right thing!

7 – Keep growing but keep growing SLOW

Take each step at a time. But keep walking.


After the keynote I walked up to them and had the amazing opportunity to talk with them. Good news folks, they see it too. The DMBA is a game changer being the first design AND business program.

»Design can’t change the world – but designers can!« (Hartmut Esslinger)

Let’s change the world.

*Please contact me if you would like a copy of the sketch note