Todd Kauranen, IDSA

Todd Kauranen, IDSA
Michigan Chapter Chair

As far back as he can remember, Todd Kauranen was always drawing, sculpting, or building. In high school, he made money by painting album covers on the back of jean jackets for fellow students. He would also sell his fired clay pieces to students and faculty. 

Upon completing high school, he wanted to attend a design school. His father said he couldn’t afford it, but would get his son a position in a skilled trades shop. At the foundry, Kauranen worked long and hard into the night. After a few years, he worked his way up through several skilled trades disciplines. From the position of foundry worker, he moved from plaster model maker to Journeyman to wood model maker, making precision wood models for the auto industry from blueprints. 

Then the three and five-axis mills eliminated the entire skilled trade of wood model making. Kauranen sought out clay modeling, because it was an avenue that allowed him to continue to use his creativity. He attended Walpro Technical Training school and obtained a certificate in clay modeling. 

After being employed as a design sculptor, he realized that he could obtain the design degree that he always wanted with the Ford tuition assistance program. He applied and was accepted to the College for Creative Studies’ Industrial Design Program. Working full time only allowed for two classes a semester. The completion of his degree took more than 10 years. Meanwhile, he worked as a Design Sculptor at Ford for 14 years. He has since worked for several manufacturing companies and product development consultancies. 

In hindsight, Kauranen’s career progression and growth through the skilled trades gave him an incredible amount of knowledge that design school alone would have not allowed him to obtain. He is keenly aware of how important these skills are, because they bring efficiencies and a holistic knowledge that eludes many other designers.

Kauranen is extremely passionate about industrial design. He is also fervent about the further growth and development of this discipline into the next generations. He has a vested interest in the future of ID, as two of his three sons are pursuing ID professions. 

Statement of Candidacy for At-Large Director, Conferences

I have an unrelenting interest in staying ahead of the curve in the ID discipline. This interest pertains to the tools and techniques that we use to increase our effectiveness and efficiencies as designers. My 2018 IDSA MI chapter event, IDSA Design Leader’s Consortium, was entirely focused on the future of industrial design. I feel this awareness of ID and its future is best served with a community focus. “A rising tide raises all ships,” as JFK once said.

I would like to provide an avenue through IDSA events where designers do not just have a desire to attend but seek to learn and maintain their professional knowledge base, grow connections within the community, and be truly inspired to get to the next level of their career. I would like to bring new and compelling discussions and talks to the members in which we, as a community, band together for positive outcomes, with the goal of using our talents for good. 

I would like to create events where other creative disciplines benchmark the IDSA events for creativity and inspiration. To do this, I feel that the event itself must be creative in ways that are delightfully surprising and unorthodox from what is known as a conference template. This would not be duplicated, but ever evolving, so attendees could not say “I did that, I do not need to go again.” Rather, attendees would always feel anticipation for the next event. 

I recently took a DISC profile assessment test, and I was amazed by the accuracy of the results. My five attributes are Learner, Futuristic, Ideation, Analytical, and Individualization. These are some statements I found that couldn’t be more accurate in describing who I am from my profile summary:  

“The freedom to explore means a great deal to you, so you are often on the lookout for unique concepts that will supplement your strong drive for perfection. Todd, you tend to be a driven innovator, whose ability to initiate and design changes can greatly increase an organization’s odds of success.”

“I thrive on possibilities and [they apply] to the creation of products, processes, individuals, and communities.”

Thank you for the opportunity to be a candidate.