NeoCon 50 Announces Marquee Presentations

Celebrating 50 Years of Tomorrow’s Design
June 11-13, 2018  

Plans are well underway for the milestone 50th edition of NeoCon, the world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial design industry, June 11-13, at The Mart in Chicago. A banner lineup of programming is on tap from some of the preeminent, influential names in design and beyond. The show will feature two marquee presentations on opening day: to kick off the show there will be a presentation led by Gensler Founder, Art Gensler, in conversation with IIDA’s Cheryl Durst, then in the afternoon there will be a panel led by Interior Design Editor-in-Chief, Cindy Allen. There will also be in-depth talks from Editor-in-Chief of Wired, Nick Thompson, as well as Founder and Design Principal of Ross Barney Architects, Carol Ross Barney. The program is rounded out by over 100 CEU seminars, which will inform and offer a glimpse of what’s next on the horizon in the world of commercial design.

Monica DeBartolo, Director of Programming, NeoCon remarks, “The individuals headlining the 2018 conference program are more than just “design influencers.” They are champions for the public good, creating and advocating for user-focused, sustainable built environments for a better future. Complemented by a rich and varied CEU seminar offering, NeoCon 2018 will deliver an exceptional educational experience as we celebrate 50 years of tomorrow’s design.”

Registration is now open for NeoCon’s four marquee presentations:

Arthur Gensler

Unanticipated Opportunities: A Conversation between Art Gensler and Cheryl Durst
Art Gensler, Founder, Gensler
Presented by Aspecta by Metroflor and IIDA

Monday, June 11
8am in the NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, The Mart

Cheryl Durst – Photo: Jeremy Witteveen,

To be the best entrepreneur, you must trust your gut, take risks, and embrace opportunity by interacting with chance encounters and keeping a constant eye on what could be. It is astonishing how often unanticipated opportunities happen and the amazing places they will take us. Art Gensler will sit down with Cheryl Durst, IIDA executive vice president and CEO, to share some of the unanticipated opportunities that have helped shape his career.

Art Gensler founded Gensler, the global architecture, design, planning and strategic consulting firm in 1965. From an office of three people in San Francisco, the firm has grown into one of the world’s leading architecture and design groups, with 5,000 people in 46 global locations. Gensler teams provide expertise in 20 practice areas – including workplace, retail, hospitality, education, brand design, and aviation & transportation – to international clients that span a wide range of industries. The firm is known for their design of many iconic interior and architectural projects around the globe, such as the Shanghai Tower. Gensler is recognized as the number one architectural firm in the country and for the past 30 consecutive years has been selected as the Most Admired Firm by its industry peers.  

She Said, She Said: Extraordinary Women in Design
Moderated by Cindy Allen, Editor-in-Chief, Interior Design

Monday, June 11
2pm in the NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, The Mart

Cindy Allen

In honor of NeoCon’s 50th edition, Interior Design Editor-in-Chief Cindy Allen shines a bright light on those who dared to enter the boys’ club of architecture and design, voicing their struggles and victories. Now, as they lead some of the world’s most prodigious firms, we hear their vision for the future. This percipient panel honors all women in design. Panelists to be announced.

One of the most influential advocates for the design industry, Cindy Allen marked her 17-year anniversary as Editor-in-Chief of Interior Design in 2018. Since her editorship began in 2001, Allen has established herself as a force in elevating the profession’s importance and exposure—acting as an ambassador and fervent supporter of interior designers, architects, and product designers, while providing a platform and vehicle of growth for the design industry.

Across the years, Allen has received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the New York School of Interior Design, the Circle of Excellence Award from IFDA, the Alpha Award by Alpha Workshops (of which she serves on the board), and the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation Leadership Award. Allen is also Chairman of the national board of DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS), a role passed on to her by David Rockwell.

Under Allen’s direction, the Interior Design platform is always evolving to best celebrate the designer and their process. From inspiration to final project or product, with Allen, the designer is always the star.

Nicholas Thompson

The Wired Future
Nick Thompson, Editor in Chief, Wired
Presented by ASID

Tuesday, June 12
8am in the NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, The Mart

The story of how science and tech will change our lives is one of the most important in the world. And no one’s more equipped to tell it than Nicholas Thompson. A veteran editor, he revolutionized The New Yorker’s online platform and transformed the magazine. Now, as the editor-in-chief of Wired, he’s working at the forefront of digital innovation—championing tech’s role in making the world a better place.

Nicholas Thompson is staking out a bold, optimistic vision for covering, and responding to, the changing realm of digital culture. From artificial intelligence to entertainment, privacy to social media, ethics to war, Thompson leads the news cycle—and in talks, he champions the ways tech can enhance our lives.Thompson served previously as a senior editor at Wired from 2005–2010. There, he edited both National Magazine Award-nominated writing and “The Great Escape,” the story that became the feature film Argo. Thompson has also played a pivotal role with The New Yorker—first as senior editor, then as editor of the magazine’s digital platform, where he helped re-design the website, launch the New Yorker app, spark an eight-fold increase in monthly readers, and quadruple the number of new digital subscribers each month. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed biography The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War.

Carol Ross Barney

Future Cities-Creating Livable Environments
Carol Ross Barney, Founder and Design Principal, Ross Barney Architects
Presented by AIA Chicago

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
9:30am in the NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, The Mart

Carol Ross Barney’s keynote will focus on “Future Cities-Creating Livable Environments.” In order to live sustainably, and efficiently, designers are going to have to make cities more livable.  Carol will talk about her experiences with projects that transform the cityscape; from the Chicago Riverwalk, to transit stations, to public places that delight and excite.

Honored with more than 100 design awards, Carol Ross Barney has been in the vanguard of civic space design since founding Ross Barney Architects in 1981.  Her projects vary in type and scale but uphold a deep commitment to the role architecture plays in life quality.  This has manifest itself in spaces that transition urban dwellers from point A to point B and enrich the metropolitan experience; to buildings that are environmental stewards, showcasing sustainability in an overtly compelling way; to spaces that inspire young children and the brightest minds of tomorrow to learn, invent and break boundaries.

NeoCon is open to trade, media, C-Suite executives and other industry-related professionals. The NeoCon 2018 website and complimentary registration is live at On-site registration: $40. Marquee/Keynote presentations: Free. CEU seminar details and registration will be available March 6.

For showroom and exhibitor news, images and real-time information, follow NeoCon Shows on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and by using the hashtag #NeoCon50

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theMART is owned by New York-based Vornado Realty Trust, a fully integrated, publicly traded, real estate investment trust (REIT) and one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States with a portfolio of over 45 million SF.