John Caruso, a professor of product design and consulting designer at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design [MIAD], is a highly sought after innovation consultant and guest lecturer on design thinking and design issues. His audience ranges from academia and professional associations to business leaders and companies. Recent keynote lectures include; “Design in Everyday Life”, addressing the importance of product design to the Wisconsin Presidents Organization [WPO] a professional business association, and “Seeing – Thinking – Making: What Designers Do”; detailing the design process to educators of the Wisconsin Art Education Association [WAEA] annual conference. Caruso has also lectured at the National Housewares Manufacturers Association Trade Show, the Association of International Graphics [AIGA] and the International Technology Education Association [ITEA]. He was invited to participate in a three day brainstorming session for Sterling Corporation, a division of Kohler Industries. In addition to teaching, Caruso is also a contributing designer for Design Consortium in Milwaukee and a consultant for Eastman Chemical Plastics in Tennessee.
Caruso, a lifelong advocate of recycling, was a front runner in developing products made from high content post consumer recycled and sustainable materials. He began his career working in the Chicago design scene before starting his own company which emphasized the development of recycled housewares products. His company was interviewed in professional magazines and newspapers both locally and nationally and many of Caruso’s designs were featured in the Good Design Exhibition Catalog. His professional work drew awareness from the industry and he received a National Endowment of the Arts [NEA] grant to continue his recycled ecological design research. Caruso’s clients included Crate & Barrel, Target, and Design Ideas, to name a few. He continues to advocate green design and sustainable lifestyles, recently giving a presentation at the Housewares Show titled Plastics Evolution: Design Intelligently to Transform Products with Sustainable Materials.
As an active member of Industrial Design Society of America [IDSA], Caruso has held a number of elected positions including two-time IDSA Midwest Education Chair, Indiana Chapter Vice-Chair and most recently as Midwest District Vice President of the IDSA, a two year term national leadership position. In addition, he has written a number of publications for IDSA’s National Education Conferences, including “Design Thinking Using Technology, An Examination of Design Thinking Strategies and the Affect of New Technology on Process”, and “Handguns in the Home: A Case of Inappropriate Technology“. Caruso has also authored articles on design exploration methods that have appeared in The Technology Teacher, notably “Crying for a Vision: Designers and the Lack of an Environmental Consciousness.”
Throughout Caruso’s teaching career, his students have won numerous national design awards. In the past nine years he has directed student projects winning six Industrial Design Excellence Awards [IDEA], including Gold in 2008 a first for MIAD; four National Housewares Manufacturers Awards, including a First Place in 2003, and two Dyson Competition awards. As of 2007, Caruso was the first professor who directed students from two separate educational institutions winning Gold and Bronze IDEA awards in the same year.
He feels the best measure of success is the success of his students.