Beginning this month, the world’s leading expo for the commercial interiors industry, NeoCon, will convert the major disruptions of this past year into a robust virtual spring and summer programming series leading up to the expo’s physical return to theMART in Chicago from October 4th through 6th, 2021. The online programming series will begin March 24th and run through the physical event in October, centering on the increasingly relevant theme of “Designing Anew.”
Besides offering the NeoCon community opportunities to remotely dip into an array of live sessions, expanded virtual modules, and topical events, NeoCon’s virtual prelude seeks to connect design professionals and enthusiasts with invaluable education, networking opportunities, and inspiration during a time when the design sphere across disciplines is experiencing new shifts.
“We are all adapting to a new world, responding with fresh ideas on design and its effect on how we live and work. As we continue to virtually connect with the NeoCon community, we wanted to provide educational sessions leading up to the show that are timely, essential, and thought-provoking,” stated Lisa Simonian, vice president of marketing at theMART, in a press release.
“The March programming will take a deep dive into the future of the office and of work itself—from exploring the new office ecosystem, examining how other design sectors might influence workplace design, to rethinking how virtual and built environments can merge into one seamless experience,” Simonian added.
The spring schedule—from March through May—will feature two-day programs centered around some of today’s most pressing design challenges and opportunities. On Wednesday, March 24 the series titled “A Return to Togetherness: Designing the Next Workplace” will deeply consider design’s significant role in returning to and sustaining new needs for workplace interiors, beginning with “The Office as an Ecosystem,” which will center on the serendipitous creative sparks and collaborative decision-making of an office ecosystem in a discussion of ideal workspaces, and how these spaces can transcend their static identities as obligations, into destinations and hubs for connection. Other sessions comprise: “The Power of Together: Reimagining our Future Workplaces,” and “The Power of Place—The New Next Workplace.”
The series will also extend to the following day, featuring topics like: “How Other Design Sectors Can Influence the Future of Workplace Design” and “Changing Face of Design—How the Design Industry Is Supporting Workforce Differently.” In April, the focus will shift to “Designing Well,” while May will explore “Designing in a Digital World.”
Subsequently, a vanguard of design professionals from the likes of Steelcase Inc., Figure3, HOK, Gensler, and more will weigh in on topics ranging from the impacts of hybrid workspaces on company culture to the effects of autonomous tech on stress levels, and how other design sectors can influence the future of workplace design.
After the spring and summer-long series of virtual programming, the “Designing Anew” theme will continue on in NeoCon’s first physical return after its cancellation in 2020. It is a foundational, more-than-50-year legacy that continues, resilient, as an annual three-day gathering place for design professionals and end-users to experience emerging products, services, and voices who are pushing the needle on commercial design. In tandem with this year’s theme, the hosting site for the expo, theMART in Chicago’s River North district, has announced that 11 leading manufacturers, including Formaspace, Loftwall, and OM Seating, have established new showrooms within the center and 19 other tenants have renewed or expanded their spaces ahead of NeoCon 2021.
Text: R. Collins
Photography: Courtesy NeoCon