NeoCon 2022 Keynotes & Special Programs Announced

Headlined by Thought Leaders with Diverse Backgrounds in Art, Education, and More 

Each year at NeoCon, thousands gather together at theMART in Chicago to connect, learn, and share the latest innovations in design for workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, public space, and government. This year’s edition will run June 13-15, 2022, and, in addition to showcasing cutting-edge new product launches from hundreds of established and emerging brands, the event will offer an engaging lineup of compelling on-site, and virtual programming. Leading the charge, the 2022 keynote speakers include internationally renowned artist Nick Cave alongside Founder, Principal, and Creative Director for art and design studio Faust, Bob Faust; designer, artist, and educator Bruce Mau; and design futurist and educator, Shashi Caan.

Each day of the show will feature additional on-site presentations, including a talk led by Todd Heiser and Lily Diego of Gensler Chicago offering an insider look into the upcoming MART 2.0 renovation project, as well as additional programming from industry experts including Royce Epstein (Mohawk Group), Karen McCallum (CBRE Design Collective), the 2020-22 Designing a Better Chicago Grant Winners, and Tanner Woodford (Design Museum of Chicago), to name a few.

 “From how design elevates the human experience, to its potential to make civic and sustainable impacts within the community and environment, to its ability to affect how we live and work, NeoCon 2022 programming will illuminate the incredible value and power of design with voices from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines,” says Allison Kearns, Director of Programming for NeoCon.

This year will also offer 47 CEU-accredited sessions that will air virtually during show dates and be available on-demand via  NeoCon’s digital platform, the NeoCon Hub, for 30 days after. These sessions will run across eight tracks: Workplace, Healthcare, Education, Facilities, Wellness, Sustainability, Design Skills, and Industry Directions. More details and registration will be available April 12.

Below is a full lineup of on-site programming with descriptions and timing. 2022 Keynotes and Special Programming will be presented onsite at NeoCon and also available for viewing via live stream on the NeoCon Hub. Registration for on-site program attendance opens on April 12.

Monday Keynote:
Nick Cave and Bob Faust – Photo Credit Whitten Sabbatini for The New York Times

 Monday, June 13, 2022

  • Keynote: Between Art and Design with Nick Cave and Bob Faust

11:00 AM CST
Presented by IIDA 

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst will moderate a dynamic conversation with Nick Cave and Bob Faust about the art of collaboration, hybrid practice, and the design of life.  For almost three decades, internationally renowned, Chicago-based artist Nick Cave has been working at the intersection of sculpture, installation, sound, performance, and film to address pressing societal issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and class. As a creative, activist, educator and community-builder, Cave often activates and engages the public sphere as part of his artistic practice. Bob Faust, Nick’s partner and design collaborator, is the Principal and Creative Director for Faust, a Chicago-based art and design studio with a focus on cultural articulation. He has been described as “part artist, part designer and part mediator.” Together, Nick and Bob launched Facility—a multi-disciplinary, multi-use collaborative space in Chicago, where art and design can foster peace, build power, and create change. Nick Cave’s new Art on theMART installation will be on display during NeoCon.

  • Special Programming: theMART 2.0: A New Era

2:00 PM CST

Gensler is collaborating with theMART to imagine an exciting future for the building. theMART has long been at the center of creativity and commerce in the city, and this session, led by Gensler’s Todd Heiser and Lily Diego, will explore its evolution as it takes on a new relevance to best serve the design and business communities of Chicago and beyond. Key areas of focus in the design plan are the first and second floors of theMART; as the nexus of activity where the public, conference-goers, and tenants intermingle, the design will encourage and reflect this confluence while respecting the legacy of the storied building.

Tuesday Keynote:
Bruce Mau

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

  • Keynote: Bruce Mau on Design

11:00 AM CST
Presented by ASID

Designer, author, educator and artist Bruce Mau is a brilliantly creative optimist whose love of thorny problems led him to create a methodology for life-centered design. Across thirty years of design innovation, he’s collaborated with global brands and companies, leading organizations, heads of state, renowned artists and fellow optimists. His work and life story are the subject of the feature-length documentary, “MAU,” scheduled for North American theatrical release this year. In these times of complex, interrelated challenges, Bruce believes life-centered design offers a clear path towards identifying the full context of our problems and developing innovative, sustainable, and holistic solutions. NeoCon will also present an exclusive screening of the feature-length documentary “MAU.” Time and date to be announced.

  • Special Programming: Designing for Measurable Impact: ASID Outcome of Design

2:00 PM CST

Interior designers strive to create spaces that elevate the human experience, delivering beneficial outcomes to clients and end-users. How do we measure those outcomes to better validate and communicate the value of design? ASID Outcome of Design celebrates sustainable, humancentric, and socially responsible design solutions, providing the tools to measure results and demonstrate return on social, environmental, and financial investment for any type of space or project. No matter your role in the design community, you will be inspired and empowered to start the conversation around impact and embed ASID Outcome of Design in your projects.  The discussion will be led by Royce Epstein, Mohawk Group, Rebekah Matheny, The Ohio State University, Alan Almasy, Herman Miller, and Karen McCallum, CBRE Design Collective.

Wednesday Keynote:
Shashi Caan

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

  • Keynote: Design: Sustain-Ability with Shashi Caan

11:00 AM CST
Presented by AIA Chicago

With her extensive international work experience, Shashi Caan is a multicultural designer, educator, and author. In her leadership roles with a roster of global clients, institutions, and firms, she has focused on meaningful improvement of life quality as shaped by design. Often described as a futurist and visionary, she has a keen interest in the foundational development for the design discipline to address current societal challenges. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has been conferred international, regional, and national professional fellowships from the IFI-the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers, Latin America, Australia, the UK, and the US.  Peter Exley, co-founder of Architecture is Fun and 2021 AIA National President, will join Shashi in conversation.

  • Special Programming: Designing a Better Chicago Panel Discussion with Tanner Woodford

1:00 PM CST

Designing a Better Chicago shines a light on our city’s extraordinary design legacy—the local talent, assets and community that have long supported civic good through design. Launched in 2020 with a Design Impact grant program, this initiative showcases individuals and organizations, public art and programs across the city, inviting residents and visitors to consider the many ways design improves civic life. Join the 2020 grant winners (Kathy Gregg, Friedman Place and Maya Bird-Murphy, Chicago Mobile Makers), the 2021 grant winners (Norman Teague, SGA Youth Services and Emily Winter, The Weaving Mill), and the 2022 winners (to be awarded) to hear about their outstanding efforts to design a better Chicago. The panel will be moderated by Tanner Woodford, founder and executive director of the Design Museum of Chicago.

To register for NeoCon 2022, read the latest From the Community blogs, and learn more about the show itself, head to More updates on programming and show activity will be announced in the upcoming months.

For showroom, exhibitor, and general NeoCon news, images, and real-time information, follow NeoCon on: Facebook (@NeoConShows), Twitter (@NeoCon_Shows), and Instagram (@NeoCon_Shows).

About NeoCon:

NeoCon is the world’s leading platform and most important event for the commercial interiors industry, held each year at theMART in Chicago. Since launching in 1969, NeoCon has served as the annual gathering place for the commercial design world’s manufacturers, dealers, architects, designers, end-users, design organizations and media. The three-day event showcases game-changing products and services from close to 500 leading and emerging companies—providing unparalleled access to the latest and most innovative solutions. A robust educational program of keynote presentations and CEU sessions offers world-class expertise and insight about today’s most relevant topics as well as the future of commercial design.

NeoCon® is a registered trademark of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc, a subsidiary of Vornado Realty Trust.

About theMART:

theMART (formerly The Merchandise Mart), located in the center of the sought-after River North submarket, is interwoven into the fabric of Chicago as an innovator in business, technology, culture, art, media and more. It is one of the world’s leading commercial buildings, wholesale design centers and the preeminent international business location in Chicago. Encompassing 4.2 million gross square feet, theMART spans two city blocks, rises 25 stories, and is visited by an average of 30,000 people each business day and nearly 10 million people annually. Offering continuous innovation and creativity from leading manufacturers and design forward showrooms, theMART serves as the home to Chicago’s most creative and technologically innovative companies.