Some Thoughts on the German Design Market … and argo’s Place in It
by David Cleaves
From its founding in 2014, argodesign has had a European ethos: a design-led firm working hand-in-hand with long-term clients to build tangible experiences with lasting value. So I’m especially gratified to be leading the company’s charge into Munich. With thriving studios in Austin and New York, I couldn’t be prouder to work alongside our Amsterdam colleagues to evolve the argo name into a major player in European design.
Our aspirations in Germany are simultaneously bold and humble. First, as admirers of Germany’s “Hidden Champions,” the countless German brands that lead their industries, we know we have a lot to learn from local clients. At the same time, we can bring argo’s cutting-edge digital and software expertise to contribute to the values behind “made in Germany,” creating top-quality products — physical and digital — that play valuable roles in people’s daily lives.
This marriage of high-quality industrial products with data-driven digital experiences will help Germany continue to compete and win as a global exporter. Specifically, we will seek clients who need our expertise in digital transformation, and in new fields such as artificial intelligence, mixed reality and the metaverse, where argo leads in thought and design. Moreover, argodesign’s perspectives on the personal nature of the metaverse are a strong fit with the careful, privacy-driven approaches cultivated here in Germany.
The connections between Germany and Texas run deep. When I was a seventh-grader enrolled in Texas History, I focused my end-of-year special project on the German settlement of the Texas Hill Country, where the charming towns of Fredericksburg and New Braunfels host their own beer festivals and a handful of old cowboys still speak Texasdeutsch, a unique dialect forged in the New World. They brought not just their language and food but also their sense of craftsmanship and design—fachwerk farmhouses and Texas Biedermeier furniture still stand as some of the earliest examples of European design made in Texas.
Ten years ago I migrated in the opposite direction, from Texas to Germany, to join frog design. After six years leading frog’s creative team in Munich, I joined BMW Group Design to run their digital pre-development department, where we created a new design language for BMW’s apps, dashboard interfaces, and voice-driven AI. Now I couldn’t be prouder to take the helm of the new argodesign Munich.
Ultimately, our new studio is about more than business. We are about collegiality, friendship, and people: long-term clients, their customers, and our team of argonauts. As I observed argo’s phenomenal growth in Austin, New York, and Amsterdam over the past eight years, I admired how Mark hired on many of the most talented colleagues I had known in my career. I feel fortunate to be able to join them, and I embrace the challenge of adding to their ranks as we build the best design team in Munich.
The time is right for argodesign; the time is right for Germany. We look forward to partnering with friends old and new. Ein Prosit auf Freundschaften alte und neue. Die Krüge hoch!
David Cleaves is Head of Creative, Munich at argodesign, helming the design consultancy’s global expansion into Germany. He led Advanced User Experience Design at BMW Group and was previously Executive Creative Director at frogdesign, where he worked with Porsche, Volkswagen, Audi, and Montblanc.