As strong proponents of a real-world education, we at Siba very much believe that some of the most impactful lessons can be learned beyond the classroom. One opportunity that we give our interior design students every year is the option of traveling to Chicago, IL to attend NeoCon, a huge industry centered around commercial design.
Every summer, Siba students have the choice to make the trip with their department head and classmates to learn first-hand about everything new and cutting-edge when it comes to designing workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, public space and government spaces.
Janelle Schrumpf, Siba’s Department Chair of Interior Design, led her 16th group of students to Chicago earlier this summer for NeoCon 2022.
This year’s notable trends included the use of lots of texture, natural plant-based décor, and the return of robust color palettes.
“We’ve come from a very clean, monochromatic look during this gray and white period, and now we’re seeing more vibrant colors and patterns. The wider selections give students and designers a chance to expand their creativity using color, texture and pattern to create spaces that reflect a completely new aesthetic.”
Attending Neocon goes beyond being the first to see emerging trends—students also get to network with industry professionals and hear about the practical applications of the newest design materials by attending product demos and presentations by the product and manufacturing reps themselves.
“This time, students met with a rep for high-end porcelain tiles who explained and demonstrated just how important prep is before installation. If a floor isn’t completely level, the product won’t sit correctly. Hearing this from him will no doubt reinforce what they’ve already learned in the classroom, and I think they will remember it when they’re meeting with their future clients and coordinating with contractors.”
Another benefit of the trip: exposing students to high-end luxury finishes that they may not have seen from vendors in their hometowns. Schrumpf explains, “You can’t fully appreciate the quality of these finishes on the Internet. When you go to NeoCon and you get into those showrooms, you can understand the products in a very tactile, 3-dimensional way.”
Among the unique experiences our students had at this year’s tradeshow was a visit to the Dirtt show space. Dirtt, a global innovator when it comes to industrialized construction and interior design, wows participants with its use of virtual reality to display and manipulate design spaces. It’s a favorite stop each year for Siba students.
The ultimate purpose of all of our field trips (locally and out-of-town) is to expand our students’ understanding of the possibilities and opportunities that await them in their new field, and to expose them to the many pathways they can take within their profession that they may have otherwise not known existed.
As Schrumpf emphasizes, “There are thousands of sources and careers in the interior design world. Attending Neocon enables students to imagine themselves working in and with a large variety of them, and it gives them confidence that they will have the tools and knowledge to be great resources for their future clients and employers.”
One thing that never changes about Neocon…there will always be new and innovative products to learn about next year! And we have no doubt that Janelle Schrumpf will be cheerfully leading the next group of Siba interior design majors to Chicago in 2023.