The Story of Frog

frog’s journey began in 1969 when Hartmut Esslinger started his business “esslinger design” in the Black Forest of Germany. Ushering in an era of emotional design in response to the mostly function-oriented products of the day, esslinger design was born out of a desire for improving the everyday lives of people, a passion for innovative technology, and a willingness to work directly with a client’s top management and strategic focus on economic success.

The young firm became first known through their work for German electronics brand WEGA. Soon, esslinger design won new clients such as hansgrohe, KaVo Dentalsystems, and Louis Vuitton. In 1973, SONY offered a long-term contract, and after Sony acquired WEGA in 1974, esslinger design helped both brands to convert advanced technology into a global Design DNA, generating more than 100 products, including the first standalone television set, the black-box Sony Trinitron, and the Walkman. From 1971 to 1982, the team grew to 12 people: young and brilliant designers—Andreas Haug and Georg Spreng being partners from 1977 to 1982—and highly qualified modelmakers, led by Walter Funk.

Esslinger's products caught the eye of Steve Jobs as he was searching for the design magic that would give Apple Computer a market edge. A multimillion-dollar deal was struck, esslinger design arrived in California, and the company took on a new name: frog design. In 1984, frog's design language for Apple, first embodied by the Apple IIc system, launched with great fanfare and commercial success. The design was recognized by Time Magazine as the “Design of the Year” and inducted into the permanent collection at the Whitney Museum of Art. Apple’s revenue soared from $700 million in 1982 to $4 billion in 1986.

In 1984, Patricia Roller joined frog first as CFO and soon became Co-CEO together with Hartmut Esslinger.

During the 1980s and early 90s, frog expanded beyond its industrial design roots, working for clients such as Disney, Logitech, Sun Microsystems, NEC, Packard Bell, Lufthansa, Olympus and still Sony. The firm moved to support the technological and cultural disruptions that clients were facing. Engineering, branding, and packaging became part of frog's core offering.

In the mid-1990s, frog led again a dramatic shift in the design industry by incorporating software into its product design capabilities. Through a new digital media group co-founded by Mark Rolston and Collin Cole, frog began offering expertise in design for websites, software, and mobile devices. In 1999 the redesign of SAP's enterprise software introduced much needed usability and aesthetics to business software. 2000's design of Dell.com became the most successful e-commerce site of its time. And frog's 2001 collaboration with Microsoft established the look and feel for Windows XP, touching the lives of millions of consumers.

In 2005, Hartmut Esslinger and Patricia Roller sold a majority stake of frog and handed over leadership of the company. Doreen Lorenzo became President and Mark Rolston Chief Creative Officer of frog.

More recently, frog began large-scale UX and convergent collaborations with organizations like Microsoft and Disney to create new software applications, mobile products and connected experiences that blur the lines between physical and digital and shape an era of ubiquitous computing. Long-term partnerships with organizations like GE and Intel continue to raise the bar for enterprise and industrial experiences.

frog also engages actively in social innovation and partners with organizations such as UNICEF and PopTech. frog’s social design practice spans continents and cultures. In 2008, frog launched Project Masiluleke, praised by The Economist as “the world’s largest field trial in mobile health technology.” The project is the first attempt to tackle South Africa's HIV epidemic with a mobile solution.

In 2014 Hans Neubert became Chief Creative Officer, and in 2015 Harry West became CEO of frog. Today, frog continues to transform industries across the world.