Based in Biberach, Baden-Württemberg, Slogdesign has been developing products for the medical and mobility sectors for more than 25 years – hand in hand with the matching communication design. But the company doesn’t just deliver the form; it’s just as involved with the technical side of a concept, including the production process.
Interview: Armin Scharf

Slogdesign has been a permanent part of Baden Württemberg’s industrial design landscape for more than two decades. But the Biberach-based firm’s expertise is broader based than that and encompasses communication design too – a meaningful combination that serves its clients well. In our interview, Susanne Schönberg and Jürgen Hinderhofer explain why.
Slogdesign develops products for both the medical and mobility sectors. How do the two things go together?
It might seem like a strange combination to begin with. But in fact, both medical and mobility products are extremely dependent on ergonomics and technology, so our expertise is a perfect fit with both sectors. Before we founded Slogdesign in 1994, I worked in the car industry for seven years. Besides exteriors, I was mainly involved with complex designs for driver’s cockpits. For one thing, we’re interested in medical and mobility-related topics, and for another our knowledge of new materials, processing technologies and high-volume production is a very good basis for combining the two areas.

KaVo MASTER and EXPERTsurg_Chirugie
Is it necessary for a design firm to specialise in certain product areas nowadays?
I think so, yes. It makes a big difference whether you work on fashionable, decorative projects or complex, technical ones. The knowledge base and experience you need for ergonomic and technical products is considerably more extensive – and has to be expanded continuously. It’s also helpful to have a specialised knowledge of processing technologies, because we don’t only serve as designers, we act as engineers as well: besides the usability of the finished product, we keep a careful eye on its producibility as well. By designing the product cleverly, we create better solutions for the manufacturer.
For a long time, design was regarded as nonessential “prettification” – what status does design have in companies these days?
Without design, a forward-looking innovation culture is impossible! That’s why leading companies make sure design is firmly anchored in their strategy: they see it as a key tool in the competition for new user groups. Good design makes the quality of the product and the innovations visible and has a positive influence on the purchase decision. Our clients benefit from design-oriented product and brand differentiation, they know that the design has an impact on their brand identity and visualises the reliable technical functionality of the product. Future-oriented entrepreneurs also know that designers can transform habitual thinking patterns.
Another aspect is that design increases price acceptance and, in our experience, improves staff’s identification with their employer. After all, who doesn’t like working for a company that makes great, successful and useful products?
Which of a company’s departments have to be involved in order to ensure successful design development?
First, management has to be convinced that well-designed products are necessary in order to differentiate the company from its competitors. Next, you have to get the product managers on board and win over the technicians and engineers. At the same time, rather than going for a one-off product innovation, the aim should be to improve the product’s look and feel, usability and quality at intervals that make both strategic and economic sense. Including design in the product’s development early on and in a targeted way is crucial to its success.
Slogdesign has been working for roof rack manufacturer Atera for 25 years now – how do you keep things fresh for such a long time?
The “nerdy” moments! Like looking for new and unprecedented mechanical solutions that steer the design process in a new direction. We’ve worked closely with Atera to evolve the digital process chain in a very logical and consistent way. The engineering design and development are done in the 3D CAD system, and after that we use 3D printing for the prototyping. We also use the 3D CAD data for 3D visualisations in images and films for advertising, for the Atera website and print media.
How deeply involved are you with the technical development process – at Atera, for instance?
In many of our projects, technology and design are closely interlinked. If you want to reduce the number of components or find a clever way to integrate functions, working as a team and in collaboration with the technical development department is the only way to do it. We don’t just scratch at the visible surface or the outer casing of the product.
Is a long-standing relationship with a client a prerequisite for good design?
It’s not necessarily a prerequisite, but it definitely makes things easier. You don’t encounter the necessary acceptance of design at every company straight away; you have to work hard for it by delivering ideas, creativity and expert knowledge. The more successful projects you’ve done together, the higher the level of acceptance and the more willing the company is to break new ground.
How can “good design” actually be defined nowadays?
Good design is logical and consistent, unobtrusive, honest, well thought through and obsessed with detail. Well-designed products are eco-friendly, repairable and self-explanatory, and thanks to 3D printing spare parts for them are available indefinitely. It should be possible to return all the product’s individual parts to the loop and reuse or recycle the materials.

Alphacam Stratasys CF12 3D_Print_MTB
You use virtual reality in your digital workflow too. What’s the benefit?
Since last year we’ve had a high-performance 4K VR system that gives our clients an impression of the design models at an early stage. Then it’s a lot easier for them to choose between different variants. The prerequisite for that is a well-built 3D CAD data model. Virtual reality gives us another visualisation option that we can offer clients in addition to physical models.
You offer communication design as well as product design – what’s the advantage for your clients?
We’re an interdisciplinary and cross-media design studio. The communication design projects often go hand in hand with our product design, but they can also be totally independent of it. Providing all-round support makes a lot of sense because we have a very precise knowledge of the product and target group and know what the advertising approach should be like. Thanks to the digital process chain, we can create advertising photos, video clips, packaging, advertising displays and website content in the rendering systems long before the product is finished.
What challenges does design face over the next five to ten years?
We’re already focusing intently on bionics, robotics, new materials, new 3D printing processes, sustainable production cycles and resource loops. As designers, it’s up to us to change consumption habits and the throwaway mentality. The shift from buying to renting products is changing product concepts and requirements. But closed loop recycling based on the cradle-to-cradle principle can only be achieved by means of strict regulations from the government.
Can design help companies on their path to climate neutrality and the circular economy?
We work for sectors whose products are designed for longevity and robustness – that’s a very important aspect and an approach that should be adopted by consumer goods as well. Take the Atera Signo roof racks we designed back in 1997, for instance: they’re still being produced. The fundamental prerequisite for that is clear, logical and consistent design with a high level of functionality and top-quality materials. I think the signs are pointing to a new-found appreciation of long-life products. That calls for design concepts and products that are so robust and easy to repair that nothing stands in the way of marketing them a second and third time. And 3D printing technology has the potential to shift supply chains towards local manufacturers as well.
What’s the most complex product you’ve ever designed?
The GT6N, a low-floor tram from 1989. It’s still in service in Berlin, Munich and Bremen today.


Founded in 1994, Slogdesign is located in Biberach and focuses on the industrial design of technical and ergonomic products, as well as the design of brand communications. Among other things, the firm’s strength lies in its ability to actively combine the two disciplines. Slogdesign was founded by communication designer Susanne Schönberg and industrial designer Jürgen Hinderhofer. 

Susanne Schönberg and Jürgen Hinderhofer