Jerome Caruso has a lifelong passion for design. He begins the day in his spacious, sky-lit studio in the contemporary/classic residence he architected in the mid 90’s. Ready for fun, Jerome sits at the computer in a Celle, the award-winning chair he designed for Herman Miller Inc.
Jerome has defined his long career with an ambitious concept: significant projects for major clients as a solo designer. He was in a graduate program at the University of Copenhagen and also working at Denmark’s premier studio, Bernadotte & Bjorn, when he first decided to go on his own. That experience set the stage for his solo design practice in Brussels a few years later, with clients throughout Europe.
Returning to the States in the late 60’s, Jerome established his namesake company with the same vision of working alone. An initial project was the first, completely machine-produced stack chair for the U.S. contract market. His patent for the Bi-Cast Chair has a remarkable 21 separate claims; the chair is in the Permanent American Arts Collection at the Art Institute in Chicago. He personally designed, prototyped (in his shop), and managed all tooling for the chair.
Jerome repeated this broad range of total responsibility with a patented, series of office chairs for Litton Industries and again, for the Attiva Stack-Chair System for Thonet Industries. (IDEA Award, 1991)
In other product areas, Jerome spearheaded Motorola’s successful entry into the manufacture of LCD watch modules. For Rockwell International, he designed one of the first LCD desk calculators in the U.S. For Shepherd Industries, he designed the first, injection-molded plastic, pedestal chair base to pass rigorous BIFMA standards for strength and durability. It’s still in production, 25 years later.
BusinessWeek hailed Jerome as “The Man Behind The Kitchen Revolution.” His ground-breaking designs for Sub-Zero established the brand as an icon and set a new standard that forever changed the entire industry. This small, Wisconsin company pioneered the concept of built-in refrigeration but never had a designer until the early ‘80’s when the CEO asked Jerome to take a look at their products. This began his seminal redesign of their complete line -- and a client relationship that spans three decades. The flagship model, a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, was the first appliance ever to win an IDEA Award (1987). The far-reaching impact of Jerome’s signature design direction for the industry is obvious today; all other manufacturers have clearly followed his lead.
A true visionary, in the early 90’s Jerome imagined a very different concept for refrigerators and freezers: a two-drawer base unit to use alone or to pair with an upper cabinet unit, each only 27 inches wide. This radical, new system smashed through all barriers and opened endless possibilities for placement, use, and appearance. He invented an ingenious door hinge, fitting the units precisely into surrounding cabinetry. They appear to “disappear.” Jerome conceptualized these units, built the prototypes, and took them to Sub-Zero as completed designs. They became the incredibly versatile 700 Series, one of Time magazine’s 10 Best Products of 1995: “This is the stuff that Martha Stewart’s dreams are made of.” This landmark series gives unparalleled freedom and consistently tops the wish list for home owners and kitchen designers—18 years after introduction. (IDSA Catalyst Award, 2005; People’s Choice Award, Interior Design 1995.)
Jerome’s next project, wine storage, was an extension of the acclaimed 700 Series. These elegant, integrated units were the first built-in’s for the industry. They completed the client’s dominance over all things cool. (IDEA Award, 2001).
In 2000, the temperature rose. Jerome accomplished the largest, solo design program in the shortest space of time: 25 new cooking appliances, to be introduced simultaneously in early 2002 for Sub-Zero’s new corporate companion, Wolf. Expanding into all aspects of cooking was a bold and risky move by the client; Jerome’s designs were crucial to making it a complete success. (IDEA Awards: Radiant Cooking Line 2003, Convection Oven line 2003)
Herman Miller, Inc. gave Jerome the ultimate design and engineering challenge: create the highest-performance, office chair at their lowest price ever. He answered with the 1998 REACTION Seating System featuring his invention of a patented, composite-spring control. (Best of Neocon Gold Award; IDEA Award 2002). Made into a platform, his “Harmonic Tilt” control is used to power five more task chairs for Herman Miller: Celle, Mirra, Sayle, Taskpointe (and Foray for Geiger, owned by H.M.)
Celle, Jerome’s second task chair for Herman Miller, was introduced in 2005. This dynamic, seating series features Cellular Suspension, a patented “intelligent surface” for seat and back -- a topography of 1,578 polypropylene pads and loops with varying resistance for an individual seating comfort. ( NeoCon Innovation Award, 2005; IDEA Award, 2006. Ergonomics: Best Workplace Seating, Mixology UK; The People’s Choice Award, NECE. Sustainability: MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle Gold Award)
With more than 95 design and utility patents, Jerome is endlessly fascinated by invention and the inventive use of materials. In 2010, Jerome embraced LED technology for artificial-light solutions employing solid state technology. His architectural lighting inventions will be exhibited at the Frankfurt Light and Building Show in April, 2012.
Jerome lives with his wife, Marie, in Lake Forest, Illinois and finds time for painting and sculpture.