Cristina Esposito When did you first become interested in industrial design?
Jerome Caruso I started at the age of 13, entering a General Motors contest to design and produce a scale model of a car. I made a clay model, transferred it to wood and then carved and painted it. It required patience but I enjoyed it and had a real aptitude for the details.
Cristina Esposito You've studied extensively in Europe. How did that come about?
Jerome Caruso Danish furniture was some of the most popular in the world at the time I was studying. I was intrigued and studied design at the University of Copenhagen. I went on to work with a number of seminal designers including Hans Wegner, Paul Carroll, and Count Sigvard Bernadotte of Bernadotte & Bjorn. I spent about seven years in Europe because it played to my interest in history and it was different to design for other cultures.
Cristina Esposito Your relationship with Herman Miller has spanned two decades.
How has that relationship evolved?
Jerome Caruso I first approached them because I felt they were strong in invention and problem solving: aesthetics married with the solution. Their philosophy was identical to mine. The relationship has since grown and now we have produced the Celle chair, which has involved a lot of engineering. We've developed the cellular structure, a real advance that is a response to research into pressure maps. And there's a synergy between the steel inner and polymer outer, even though it started out as all steel.
Cristina Esposito What other projects are you working on?
Jerome Caruso I'm creating a 21st-century desk that I can't say too much about at the moment. But essentially it's sensitive to what we do and how we work and embodies advanced technology.
Cristina Esposito What's been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
Jerome Caruso Well I work alone, which is a challenge in itself. But probably the 24-strong line of products I was asked to produce for Sub-Zero when they bought the Wolf brand of commercial cooking products. That took almost two years.
Cristina Esposito How do you come up with ideas?
Jerome Caruso It sounds simple, but I start with a blank piece of paper. I then visualise what's missing or needed. Celle started that way. I'll do a lot of research and produce sketches. Technology has been a fantastic tool because you could never tell if something would work in the past - now you can.
Cristina Esposito It must have been interesting to watch that revolution take place.
What else has technology allowed you to do?
Jerome Caruso On the Wolf job I managed to turn out almost 152m of sketches and drawings for full-sized ovens and appliances, in colour, within one week.
Although I'll always sketch, technology has really increased my creativity.
NAME: Jerome Caruso COMPANY: Jerome Caruso Design BORN: Chicago, Illinois EDUCATION: 1959:
Batchelor of Arts, University of Illinois 1963: Degree in Industrial Design, University of Copenhagen EMPLOYMENT HISTORY:
Director of design, Jon Houser Associates director, Jerome Caruso Design KEY DESIGNS:
1986: 500 Series redesign of refrigerator range for Sub-Zero 1995: 700 Series for Sub-Zero 1998: Reaction seating series for Herman Miller 2005: Celle chair for Herman Miller MOST ADMIRED DESIGNER:
Leonardo da Vinci - invention and art combined MOST DISLIKED DESIGN:
Product design as fashion design - misrepresenting everything that is good about design