NeoCon to explore human-centred design

NeoCon will return to the Mart in Chicago from 10-12 June with a focus on experiences, shining a stoplight on human-centred design with a keynote lineup featuring Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, Ilse Crawford, and Liz Ogbu.

The opening presentation features multidisciplinary designer Robin Standefer, who will address the ‘Familiar and Unusual,’ followed by a Q&A along with Stephen Alesch. Having first worked together for a decade designing sets for Hollywood films, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch founded Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors in 2002. The pair have forged an ability to create projects without boundaries or borders, employing a range of materials, objects and references. They are designers of interiors, buildings, furniture and objects whose philosophy has spearheaded a movement in the industry against corporate modernism.

Meanwhile, ‘Stuff Matters: The Material World We Make’ will see designer Ilse Crawford discuss her mission to put human needs and desires at the centre of her own work. As founder and Creative Director of Studioilse, together with her multidisciplinary, London-based team, Crawford sets out to create environments where humans feel comfortable, including public spaces that make people feel at home. She also designs furniture and products that support and enhance human behaviour and actions in everyday life.

Designer, urbanist and spatial justice advocate Liz Ogbu will also explain how working with communities in need can leverage the power of design to catalyse sustained social impact as part of a ‘Do No Harm: The Role of Design in Complicated Times’ session. Founder and Principal of Studio O, a multidisciplinary consultancy working to innovate challenged urban environments globally, Ogbu has designed shelters for immigrant day labourers in the US, as well as a water and health social enterprise for low-income Kenyans. Her work blends human-centred design research methodologies, architecture and equitable development principles, cross-disciplinary design thinking frameworks and social agendas.

“While they hail from diverse backgrounds, our 2019 keynote presenters have all explored, studied and implemented practices and methodologies that focus on empathy and the human experience,” says Monica DeBartolo, Director of Programming for NeoCon. “This will come to the forefront in their dynamic presentations and will also be explored in NeoCon’s robust CEU seminar program, which boasts over 100 sessions across a number of educational tracks.  Whether it’s a corporate office, boutique hotel, urban environment or public space, ultimately it is the fundamental needs of people that will help define the future of commercial interiors.”

The 2019 edition will also see over 500 hospitality brands launch collections that place emphasis on human needs and the requirements of those who live, work and interact in the space. Amongst the exhibitors are: Humanscale; Haworth; ESI; Workrite; Steelcase; Herman Miller; and Allsteel, as well as Pedrali; DeVorm; Framery; Mikomax; and Narbutas.