Frank Zebner studied at the schools of design in Munich, in Schwäbisch Gmünd and in Offenbach am Main in the 1980s. He worked as a designer in Munich, London and San Francisco, among others for frog design, Moggridge Associates and ID TWO (today IDEO).
Influenced by his close collaboration with Bill Moggridge and Bill Verplank at ID Two in San Francisco, Frank Zebner concentrated increasingly on the field of interaction design in the years that followed.
In the mid-1990s, as Head of Interface and Transportation Design at Siemens Global Design Headquarters, he was involved in infrastructure, mobility and design projects for public transportation.
In 1997, he was appointed Professor of Product and Communication Design at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Schwäbisch Gmünd. In 2008, he was appointed to the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) Offenbach am Main to teach Technical Products and Product Systems – now Industrial Design.
Frank Zebner has served as Associate Dean at the HfG Offenbach since 2009 and was Dean of the Design Department for two terms from 2010 to 2013 and 2014 to 2016.
In November 2019, Frank Zebner was again unanimously elected as Dean of the School of Design for a three-year term. In July 2021, he stepped down halfway through his term as dean to explicitly give new and female professors in the Design Department’s Faculty the opportunity to lead the department, giving them a special and innovative role in shaping curriculum reform for the development of BA and MA programs. This was directly related to the reorientation of the School of Design that he had been pushing since the mid-2010s, with the themes of Information Design and Digital Design as well as Urban Design, which together with the previous teaching areas of Industrial Design, Integrating Design, Material Design, Design Theory and Cultural Theory & Aesthetics, was to lead to an agile academic construction for a design education of the future.
As a visiting professor, Zebner has taught and lectured at numerous colleges and universities in Europe, Asia and Australia. He was an honorary professor at National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan and in 2016 held a supervisor professorship at China Central Academy of Arts CAFA in Beijing in Transportation and Mobility Design. In 2017, he was appointed as a Visiting Professor at the School of Fine Arts of Guangzhou University and BIT Beijing Institute of Technology.
As a jury member, he accompanied the design award competitions of the German Design Award, Red Dot Design Award and IF Design Award, among others.
Frank Zebner is the founder of the Design Institute of Technology (formerly DIIO), a project platform of the department he represents at the Offenbach University of Applied Sciences, which, among other things, carries out design research and development for medium-sized and large companies, such as Audi, Lamy, Porsche and Lufthansa. Numerous awards for design and research achievements, activities as a juror, publications on issues of design.
Since 2014 mentor of the Design Network Hessen (IHK Offenbach). He is also a member of the Association of German Industrial Designers (VDID) and Attac.
He is a founding member of the German Society for Design History (GfDg) – founded at the Haus am Horn in Weimar (Germany) in 2008.
Frank Zebner is committed to issues of inclusion and is a founding board member of the non-profit association design inclusion e.V., which, among other things, annually awards a design prize for design innovation in the field of universal design with a prize sum of 10,000 euros.