Exclusive Interview: Jennifer Sitko Part 1
Trends & Events
We’ve got part one of the interview with Jennifer Sitko, the founder of 2Modern (along with Greg Finney). We’ve been trying to uncover and celebrate 2Modern with insider interviews on the blog, and Jennifer brings us some great insights into her background and the beginnings of 2Modern. We think you’ll get a kick out of learning about how this great website started as well as all the design experience Jennifer has.
We have an ulterior motive for scheduling Jennifer’s interviews this week, though: she’ll be an integral part of our coverage of next weekend’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. That’s right; 2Modern will be bringing you AMAZING posts all about the new and exciting trends, products and designers that we find at ICFF 2011. Jennifer, along with the delightful Danielle Hirsch and supplemented by the talented Michael Yates, will help make 2Modern THE source for ICFF news. We’ll tell you more about our coverage in another post, in the meantime, enjoy getting to know one of our founders:
Our podcast music is “Dropping out of School” by Brad Sucks, licensed for use under Creative
Commons license Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported
We’ve got your transcript below. And don’t forget to go back and listen to Greg Finney’s interview (part one and part two). Here’s the audio for this interview: 2Modern Jennifer Sitko What else do you need from us?
2Modern: We have another very special guest with us today. So along with our podcasts of designers and architects, we wanted to interview some of the people who run 2modern to give you a picture of what it is that we do here. This week we’ll be interviewing Jennifer Sitko, who along with Greg, founded 2Modern. Thanks for sitting down with me.
Jennifer Sitko: Thank you.
2M: So let’s just start with your background. What kind of schooling did you go to? Early jobs?
JS: So I went to UC Davis. I have a degree in environmental design and I have a minor in interior architecture and graphic design.
2M: And what made you want to get into—what is it called, environmental design?
JS: Environmental design, yeah. It’s a program at UC Davis that houses all their design departments so there’s textile majors and landscape architecture, etc.
2M: So it’s all the majors that are working toward basically creating the environments that we live in.
2M: That must have given you a really great handle on everything—from the larger scales of interiors and architecture but also to a smaller scale.
JS: Yeah it’s a very diverse program, so you dabble in a little bit of everything, which is great, because I was able to do everything from set design to furniture design to landscape architecture, and then you choose a focus. I was really interested in interior architecture and lighting so I went that route. We did a lot of designing of interior spaces like museums, health clubs, and restaurants. And then I had another kind of passion for graphic design and printed pieces and paper and typography. So I dabbled a lot in that. I was also really involved in student government and I ran the public relations on campus.
2M: Well what about early jobs? What were some of the jobs you started your career off with?
JS: Well that was really interesting. When I got out of school I was really interested in interior architecture. But when I got out it was a very hard time for students and I interviewed at architecture firms and had a lot of informational interviews and it was basically no one was hiring. So I decided to go with my other focus for a couple of years until the economy turned around and I went into graphic design and was actually a cartographer, which is a map maker, and did these really large scale prints. It was really great; I was really fortunate to get that job. It gave me a kick start into a small business I started a few years later which was basically graphic design and getting into presentation design and web development and I never really looked back. I didn’t really miss architecture at that point; I was so enthralled with web and the exciting things that were happening at that time.
2M: So what is it about modern design that you would say you love? Is that how you would describe your personal aesthetic?
JS: Definitely. I’ve always gravitated toward kind of bold statements and non-traditional design in all my work. In college, throwing a giant, curved red wall in the middle of a museum I designed…kind of out-of-the-box, shock factor, clean looking design. I’ve just always gravitated towards that. It wasn’t an intentional decision it was just my design style.
2M: Do you have a definition of “modern”?
JS: You know my definition of modern is anything that is kind of thinking out of the box. Anything—it could be borrowed from the past, but maybe reused in an interesting way—a design idea. It could be something that…putting two interesting, clashing designs together to bring something fresh. I think my definition of modern is anything new and exciting and looked at in a different way. So it could be a traditional piece that just has an edge of something unusual—something new.
2M: Having found yourself in so many different fields over the years, has your definition of modern changed? Do you have a different definition of modern in the different fields? Like in graphic design and architecture—is that all the same definition of modern? Or do different things govern different fields?
JS: You know to me it’s all the same. I feel like I can try to design perhaps a piece of furniture for 2Modern or maybe even a new marketing campaign—it kind of all stems from the same idea of what do I think is new and fresh at the moment, in the season in the month? It kind of varies. So I think whether I’m designing a printed piece or whether I’m designing a piece of furniture to me it’s all the same.
2M: What was it about the idea of an online retail store like 2Modern that was something you wanted to get involved with?
JS: Well I think the medium was something that was very easy for us—Greg Finney and I—because we were building websites at the time we started it. The ability to have our own site and kind of the world is our playground in this case. We could decide in the morning that we have this great idea about this new contest or new thing we want to share with the world and we’re able to do that right away. And we’re able to bring our creative—we’re very creative; we’re very creative together—we’re able to think of something the world should see and put it up in days or seconds depending on how big of an endeavor the functionality on the site is. So I think that it was a way for us to share with the world good design and bring good new designers and give them a little light but also show our ideas to people who are following us.
2M: You were just listening to the first part of our interview with Jennifer Sitko, one of the founders of 2Modern. You can listen to the second part of her interview later this week, and as always, you can listen to other podcasts on the blog at 2modern.com.