Q&A: JDK Creative Director, John Siddle on the Vermont Design Week identity, and why doing business in Vermont works
John Siddle

John Siddle, JDK

There are design weeks all over the country, where every town has a different vibe and scene. Burlington Vermont is a place which people flock to for inspiration, and a place locals love to call home. It is also home to many renowned design studios and art often found exclusively in a big city environment. This year AIGA Vermont is having its first design week and it is Burlington’s own JDK Design that brought the week’s identity to life.

It is a Monday afternoon in the JDK studio. The garage doors are wide open to the sounds of summer outside. Employees take in the fresh air, all the while working and engaged in conversation. The office has energy. John Siddle, Creative Director, brings us into to the courtyard between the buildings. It was ten years ago when John started at JDK. He has experienced the growth, and compression of the company. Today with a much smaller and focused team at his back he discusses the impact of design week in Vermont.

AIGAVT: Why did you get involved with Vermont Design Week?
JS: It would be completely crazy to not get involved with design week. We are centered here, and it all started here.

JDK has done other projects for fun, like Higher Ground’s posters, for the love of “creating awesome design”. Design week is another vehicle for JDK to have fun with design, and give back to the design community.

Vermont Design Week Identity, Created by John Siddle, JDK Design

Vermont Design Week Identity, created by John Siddle, JDK

AIGAVT: What was your vision for the VDW identity?
JS: The approach was to destroy preconceived cliché ideas about Vermont and sum up what I think Vermont is: optimistic, energized, youthful, and progressive. In an unexpected and inviting way; I wanted it to be something super freaking cool and have people respond to it like, “Wow, that’s in Vermont.” I want to see it move, and let people take it apart. It is designed to be a catalyst for more.

AIGAVT: Have you had opportunities to use design as a vehicle for social change?
JS: Some of my favorite projects have been for brands that make a positive impact in the world. I have really enjoyed working on local company branding like 1% for the Planet, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and All-Earth Renewables because they are doing great things for the environment.

VEIC and 1% for the Planet branding by JDK, VEIC web design by Corey Mechanic.

AIGAVT: How has being a Vermont company affected your business? Are there clients that seek your work because you are in Vermont?
JS: It hasn’t really. In fact, it’s the work that draws business. So, why wouldn’t we be here? There is so much to offer. Our clients like coming to Vermont and often tack on days to their trip. The clients we attract are not typically looking for the crunchy granola brand, unless it’s appropriate. But, if they are a Vermont company they are often looking to break free of that persona.

“While there is a perceived Vermont brand and perceptions are truthful, there are many facets of Vermont.”

 

There are a lot of ways for an area to grow with big business, and shopping malls, but it comes down to what do you want to achieve. Economic growth at what cost? We have nothing, but yet we have everything.

By Alaina Castillo-Kunkle
Published September 1, 2014
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