Modern components and systems for automotive and industrial applications have to meet various requirements in several technical fields. This article describes how to use surface technology as a modern design element for components and systems to enable the demanding requirements of market leading automotive and industrial products. Therefore, Schaeffler has developed and established a coating tool box for customized surfaces to deliver the suitable solutions as per the needs and requests using corresponding coating system enabled by PVD-/ PACVD-, spraying or electrochemical technology. For innovative products, it is extremely important to consider coatings as design elements and integrate them in the product development process at a very early stage. In this article tribological coatings are viewed within a holistic and design-oriented context. The latest developments, characteristics as well as technical and economical effects of amorphous carbon coatings and their use in combustion engines and industrial bearing applications are briefly described. The presented Triondur® amorphous carbon based coating systems (a-C:H; a-C:H:Me; a-C:H:X and ta-C) are excellent examples for customized tribological systems such as bucket tappets or roller bearings. These carbon coatings offer the following advantages: excellent low friction with highest wear resistance, enhanced surface energy, optimized wettability and interaction with formulated engine oils and low adhesion to the counterpart.A close collaboration between designers and surface engineers is required in the future. The Schaeffler Group delivers around 80 million high-quality PVD- and (PA)CVD-coated components every year which enables outstanding applications, preserve resources and meet increasing customer requirements. As a result, customers benefit from all over the world and receive innovative, customized solutions of highest quality.