The 51st annual edition of NeoCon, the world’s leading event for the commercial design industry, will again take place at the Mart in Chicago, its home since 1969, from June 10 through 12. In addition to 100 accredited seminars and seven new permanent showrooms debuting at the show, this year’s iteration will focus on human-centered design and hospitality, with keynotes and new off-site tours complementing these themes.
Keynote: “The Familiar and Unusual: An Investigation of Balance and Experience in Design”
Designer Robin Standefer of AD100 firm Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors will open NeoCon on Monday morning with a keynote presentation followed by a Q&A session alongside her partner, Stephen Alesch. The two first worked together designing sets for Hollywood films before cofounding their firm in 2002.
Monday, 8 A.M., NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, the Mart
New This Year: NeoCon Plaza
This new outdoor area designed by Gensler Chicago with furnishings, fabrics, and flooring by Haworth Collection, Sunbrella, and Interface will span the length of the Mart’s South Drive and offer guests a place to connect, relax, and recharge throughout NeoCon. Opening Sunday and running through Wednesday evening, the space will feature lounge seating and other outdoor furnishings by various vendors, plus gourmet culinary offerings from chef Michael Kornick of Chicago’s DMK restaurant group.
Sunday, 10 A.M.–2 P.M.; Monday and Tuesday, 7 A.M.–9 P.M.; Wednesday, 7 A.M.–5 P.M.
Event: The IIDA Gala
Held Sunday evening, this black-tie gala (formerly known as COOL) will kick off NeoCon with dinner, dancing, and networking at the Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, where winners of the IIDA's Interior Design Competition and the Will Ching Design Competition will be announced.
Sunday, 7–10 P.M., 160 E. Pearson St.
Seminar: “What Clients Want: Essential Design Conversations”
Cheryl Durst, IIDA’s CEO and executive vice president, will lead a panel discussion on how designing today’s offices, hospitality spaces, and retail stores requires drawing on the fields of psychology, operations management, human resources, and sociology. Leaders from Gensler and IA Interior Architects will also participate.
Monday, 11 A.M., Floor 19, the Mart
Keynote: “Stuff Matters: The Material World We Make”
Designer and creative director Ilse Crawford, founder of Studioilse, will speak on her philosophy of creating environments that make people feel at home and designing furniture and products that enhance everyday human behavior.
Tuesday, 8 A.M., NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, the Mart
Design Tour: Hotel Essex
For the first time this year, NeoCon will host a series of six designer-led, off-site tours in partnership with IIDA (advance reservations and additional fees apply). Chris McDonough and Lindsey Pickle of Gettys Group will helm the two-hour tour through Hotel Essex, one of Chicago’s landmark buildings that reopened this spring following a top-to-bottom renovation led by the firm.
Tuesday, 1 P.M., Hotel Essex, 800 S. Michigan Ave.
Design Tour: McDonald’s Headquarters
McDonald’s Global Design Group will also lead a tour of the company’s new global headquarters, opened in 2018 in Chicago’s Fulton Market district with design by IA Interior Architects, Gensler, and Studio O+A.
Wednesday, 9 A.M., 1035 W. Randolph St.
Keynote: “Do No Harm: The Role of Design in Complicated Times”
Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of Studio O—a consultancy focused on challenged urban environments—will speak about the importance of being thoughtful about whom you’re designing for, and paying attention to the context of their individual and collective stories.
Wednesday, 11 A.M., NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, theMART
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest