SurfaceMatter Design (SMD) is a multidisciplinary branding and environmental graphic design studio located in Providence, RI.


We combine a wide range of design media to create innovative and effective design solutions for our

clients within the corporate, educational, public, retail, and institutional business sectors.


Our work integrates information, identity, and user experience to create impactful spaces, branded environments, signage & wayfinding, and graphic media.


We follow a collaborative and creative approach that is both interdisciplinary and inclusive to help

our clients express their brand and achieve their mission.


Our design services include the following:

• Brand identity programs

• Branded environments

• Signage and wayfinding

• Print and marketing collateral

• Exhibition design

• Interactive media




As a partner at SurfaceMatter Design, Shonna serves as Principal for the firm’s branding, print and interactive design services. She brings over 17 years of experience working with clients in many industries, including retail, publishing, education, and non-profit organizations.


Shonna received her BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design after initiating her passion for graphic design at the School  of Visual Expression in London. Prior to starting SurfaceMatter Design, Shonna built her career as both an independent and in-house designer for several international retail brands including Esprit de Corp., Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Little Brown Publishing, and The Express Ltd. Through these experiences she attained substantial expertise in branding, creative direction, and retail graphics. In 2003 Shonna started her own design practice working with a broad range of New England clients including New Balance, US Sailing, Timberland, and Johnson & Wales, among others.


Shonna’s creative process is enhanced by a passion

for design thinking, visual communication, and client interaction. Her projects range across application including logos, book covers, corporate brochures, websites, and institutional collateral.

JOHN SEELEY, Principal


As a partner at SurfaceMatter Design, John serves
as Principal and Creative Director for the firm’s environmental design practice. He leads clients to successful solutions by providing a strong, multi-disciplinary approach with expertise in branded environments, retail design, exhibition design, and signage & wayfinding.


John received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Before establishing SurfaceMatter Design with Shonna Dowers in 2012, John spent over 18 years developing

his career at prominent design firms including Fitch,

The Burdick Group in San Francisco, and most recently as Principal at Selbert Perkins Design in Boston.

His projects have included public and institutional wayfinding programs, museum exhibitions, and branded environments for clients including the City of Providence, RI, Rockville, MD, Princeton University, MIT, Boston Children’s Hospital, Crocker Art Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum, Crayola, and Hasbro, among others.


John has been an adjunct faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design where he continues to be involved as a guest lecturer. He has also spoken by invitation at several events sponsored by the Society

of Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD), Boston Architectural Society and DesignxRI.

© 2014 SurfaceMatter Design. All rights reserved.