Jerome Caruso could be considered the king of kitchens. In the mid-1980s, he was approached by the Sub-Zero company to help refresh the look of its refrigerators.
At the time, the young designer was better known for designing digital watches for Motorola. But when Caruso turned his hand to the humble refrigerator, he transformed Sub-Zero into an icon for high-end kitchens. Business Week wrote that his sleek, designer refrigerators were “not unlike having a Ferrari in your driveway.”
In 1998, Caruso designed the Reaction chair for Herman Miller, which won Best of NeoCon Gold. Then he tackled “the Mount Everest of fun.”
Always concerned with ergonomics, Caruso “envisioned hundreds of tiny ‘cells’—each one consisting of a pad with spring-like loops that would both support and respond to different anatomical areas.” The result was the Celle chair with a patented Cellular Suspension system that mimics the buoyancy of water.
Now with nearly 100 patents, Caruso continues to peer into the future of product design. But let’s hear it from him.
Here are 7 questions for Jerome Caruso.
1. What are you working on right now?
I’m developing two new seating groups that employ an advanced technology, both for the control and the seating suspension. Also, I’m working with a European design group on a progressive concept for built-in appliances.
2. Which of your products are you most proud of?
The short answer: I think I’ll be most proud of these next projects. I do get a kick out of seeing my designs, like the distinctive wall oven for Wolf, featured in magazine layouts of beautiful homes. However, I’m most proud of my solutions that reach beyond a single product line.
For example, the composite spring control that I invented and designed back in ’96 for Reaction is now employed on five Herman Miller chairs, including Celle.
An example from my Sub-Zero work, the other major focus of my design career, is The Integrated Refrigeration System that I brought to the company as prototypes in 1992. This invention—modular, refrigerated drawers and cabinets—blew open the idea of what “cold storage” could look like (virtually anything) and where it could be placed (virtually anywhere). This was a game-changer for Sub-Zero–-and beyond. It’s had a far-reaching, positive impact on the entire appliance industry as other companies are following this versatile concept.
3. What inspires you? Where do you go for inspiration?
Like many designers, I’m inspired by new technology, but even more by my discovery of principles in physics that have application in product design. This is great fun and keeps me going!
4. What work do you most admire by another designer or artist?
Considering my response to number 3 above, the answer has to be Leonardo. For a contemporary name, I admire the work of Santiago Calatrava. He brings a very high level of aesthetics to engineering and architectural solutions.
5. What would be your dream projects?
I’m working on them. (See #1.) The “dream” is to get them produced!
6. What place in the world would you most like to visit?
More trips to the Middle East and around the Mediterranean top the list. Those countries with their long, intertwined histories are endlessly fascinating. Next up is Jordan and a revisit to Egypt, Israel, and Turkey.
7. What one thing do you want to accomplish before you die?
The closest that I can get to the “perfect” chair—an elegant solution that contributes real progress in terms of long-term support and comfort.