This past spring, I, along with six others, were given the opportunity by the Ohio/Kentucky Chapter of IIDA to attend NeoCon 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. I was nominated to compete in the IIDA Student Design Charrette, and was surprised and thankful for the opportunity to challenge myself and represent the University of Kentucky in this event. This four day trip also served to be an excellent opportunity to meet new people in the design community, both professionals and students, and I had an amazing time representing IIDA!
Our group had a jam packed schedule for all four days, and we made the most of these activities and tours planned. We kicked off our week on Sunday, using our free time to get to know each other and get our bearings of The Merchandise Mart, where we would be spending a majority of our trip. The scale of NeoCon was more than I expected, and there was so much to take in it was almost overwhelming! It was exciting to see the products and displays, and Rebekah Matheny, our IIDA contact for the week, helped immensely with informing us about NeoCon and the week ahead of us.
Day two involved a short breakfast before heading off for a Tarkett showroom tour, the start of many various showroom tours throughout the day. This proved to be an excellent opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the new products and technologies in each space, as well as hear a variety of perspectives from representatives within the design community. I learned a lot, especially from hearing about these products and their uses in a more hands-on direct way from each company. Each new perspective provided inspiration for future projects as well!
Tuesday was the date of the design charrette, which was an amazing experience, especially since I had never personally competed in a challenge like this before outside of my college. It was not only fun, but interesting to see how the approaches and skill sets of each team and student varied! I loved hearing the final presentations that afternoon, as each team had interpreted and visualized the design problems and solutions in very diverse ways.
On the last day our group had a morning breakfast with Herman Miller and a bit of free time to tour NeoCon before hopping on the IIDA Trolley to McDonalds Headquarters for IIDA Bootcamp and winner’s reception. The first set of presentations, which were a part of the IIDA Student Bootcamp, were inspiring, and really fueled my passion for design on all levels. We heard of the impact design was having on our lives at multiple scales, and the potential for these ideas to have a great impact on society in the future. The day ended with the winners’ reception, where two from our Ohio/Kentucky Chapter received recognition!
Overall this week fueled my love and passion for design, and was a huge opportunity to learn about new trends, technologies, and gain a more holistic view of the industry as a whole. It was an amazing experience that allowed me to meet new friends and be truly enriched with design. I am so thankful to have received this opportunity from IIDA, and would recommend a trip to NeoCon to any design student thinking of attending in the future!