This was my 34th year attending NEOCON. I enjoy the “EXPO” component of a conference and see it as an opportunity to ride the crest of innovation. In addition to experiencing product in three dimensions, interacting with product designers and industry partners provides invaluable insight. Ilsa Crawford, the ASID NEOCON keynote, referred to interior designers as the “makers of space” and our work as a tool to “enhance humanity.” In today’s increasingly transparent marketplace, collaborative efforts with our industry partners and understanding the story behind the products we specify has never been more essential. The NEOCON innovations that captured my attention this year were embedded in science. A few examples of humancentric product innovation:
Mohawk introduced their Relaxing Floors collection representing the science behind biophilic design. Partnering with the University of Oregon’s Fractal Research team, the product replicates what the eye sees in nature and fractal patterns that create relaxation in the body at rates only pharma has created in the past.
Designtex introduced Celliant, a fabric innovation the FDA has labeled a general wellness product. The textile absorbs the body’s energy reflecting it back into the skin, increasing tissue oxygen levels. Chairs upholstered with Celliant promote blood flow, healing, and increased energy.
Expositions like NEOCON, High Point, and the dozens of other shows that provide product knowledge are required of the interior designer, however, today’s knowledge economy places a premium on soft learning, analysis, and research. ASID has always been my “go to” for inspiring, cutting- edge information. Whether you practice ID in a large firm, small firm, or as an independent contractor, we share common motivations and interests as interior designers - as “makers of space.” Belonging to a visionary, networked organization to assist navigating the evolving environments where we work, learn, live, and play is essential to maintaining relevancy to our increasingly informed client base.
EXP is the ultimate event for design professionals of all levels, from seasoned professionals to rising stars, and will be held in Atlanta, July 18-20. Topics to hone a designer’s soft skills range from Design Contracts and Fees to Business Development and Storytelling. I was glad to see a session on Gallup StrengthFinders which has been in my toolkit for a decade as the best assessment to optimize team performance in addition to providing self-discovery for my own personal strengths.
Mentoring and Collaboration sessions are hot topics in most professions today. Mentoring remains a central way to share institutional wisdom, and for young and mid-career professionals, is a primary path to learning. Human Behavior and Design is another mandatory session for me, as I believe this will continue to gain prominence in forming the case for how we promote design solutions to “enhance humanity”.
Automation, temporary work, and new economic realities are not only impacting our career paths, but dramatically impacting the environments we design. Maintaining current knowledge in the field is required of the professional interior designer. Diligence in a variety of learning methodologies is a great way to continue to hone our craft.
BJ Miller, FASID, CCIM