Tyler Vendituoli of Conant lights up Burlington design scene

DSC_0853-copyWords and Photos // Matt Keller

Tyler Vendituoli had been on the traditional AP track through his junior year in high school, mostly because it was what everyone expected of him. “My senior year, I completely reversed course and took as many arts classes as possible,” he said.

Vendituoli is a native of the Northeast Kingdom who went on to major in fine arts at the University of Vermont where he studied sculpture and metals. He paired that up with geology and the idea of being a jeweler. “I did that for a summer and realized most of the work took place sitting at a desk all day,” he said. “I knew then that wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t what I imagined my life being.”

That was when he focused in on Conant Metal & Light on Pine Street. “I started designing pieces in school that incorporated lighting, and I would figure out things that I thought would fit the brand.”

The day came when Steve Conant, the owner of Conant Metal and Light, asked Vendituoli to prove himself. “They decided to bring me in and give me a shot,” Vendituoli said. “It was riveting chairs, and they gave me a couple weeks to work on it. It was a test to see if I had the skill, as well as the determination.”

Now Vendituoli makes metal and light come to life for Conant on a regular basis. He has ascended quickly. Still in his 20s, Vendituoli has already designed a handful of well-known pieces in Chittenden County. They include a rhinoceros, a giraffe, a woman in a yoga pose near Winooski falls, and a bike rack with an ironic fake meter just a few blocks down on Pine Street.

He has risen to the level of Project Manager and deals directly with clients and architects to custom design small and large scale projects. Conant said, “Every once in a while someone comes along who’s hungry for creative challenges, learning opportunities and professional development at work. Tyler is one of those people.”

His latest project is designing a series of cone-shaped lights for a brand new building at Champlain College. He says the variety of the projects are what make his job so enjoyable. He has worked on projects for hotels, restaurants, breweries, tasting rooms, colleges, and private homes, among others. He has also done pieces for Chris Martin from Coldplay and the actor Bruce Willis. “I get inspiration out of working with the seven other people in this shop,” he said. “It is a very collaborative process.”

Conant Metal and Light has been around for more than 30 years. Steve Conant, and long-time employee, Jonathan Ward, are well-known throughout the industry and have built a well-oiled machine at 270 Pine Street. The cachet, industry reputation, and access to good jobs already existed at Conant when Vendituoli walked in the door. What he has done is blend art with commerce and design and functionality in a new and refreshing way.