Adventures at NeoCon, Part 2

Welcome back to our series on the 2018 NeoCon event. If you missed part 1, it can be found here.

Sometimes you come across a product or booth that may not speak to a particular trend or movement in the design world, but it’s pretty cool all the same. This installment of What I Did on my Summer Vacation will focus on those products that made me stop and say, “wow!”

The Juice Mobile Power Strip by Bretford


Designed specifically for classroom and educational use, this product probably also has a wider use range than just that market. Each 12 foot track is designed to be plugged into an outlet to extend the range of how far you can be from the wall and still plug in your laptop. It also provides convenient floor power without having to rip up existing floor or build a floating floor. Need a longer distance? No problem, the units can be daisy chained together to provide flexibility.

Designtex’s Celliant Upholstery Fabric


Celliant fibers have been around since 2008, but have seen a renewed interest in recent years. Designtex has released a collection of upholstery fabric backed in these fibers that collect the heat given off by the human body and reflect it back as infrared light, promoting increased circulation and blood oxygenation. This fabric won a Gold award for upholstery fabric in the Best of NeoCon competion.

PIXA Cube Light from Sensitile


Apologies for the blurry picture, but I couldn’t resist this light fixture using Sensitile’s PIXA material. This particular pattern is made from terrazzo with little bits of optical plastic that is made partially from recycled plastic from the manufacture of some of their other products. It can be used towards LEED points. Very mod, very green.

VR and AR Support for Configura CET Designer


If you’ve taken the FF&E class, you know about Configura CET Designer. It’s a nifty little piece of software that allow you to design in both 2D and 3D simultaneously can produce photo-realistic renderings. In the US it’s mostly used for commercial projects, but also has a strong kitchen and bath presence in Europe. The coolest part is that in now supports Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Using a $20 headset and either your phone (or a cheap refurbished one, as long as it has wifi) you can put your client in the room and space, it’s definitely an on-trend alternative to fly-through videos.

A partner company has also allowed for the use of Augmented Reality in conjunction with Configura CET Designer through use of an iPad. Scan a CET drawing with the iPad and show it to your clients on the screen in multiple scales, including 1:1. This means that you can show a client what the furniture selections would look like in an already built environment.

There are many more interesting products than I can post here, but there is my top 4!

Interested in going to NeoCon yourself? Next year’s NeoCon takes place June 10-12, 2019.

Have a cool competition, job opportunity, or other design related news? Let us know! Email us and we’ll get it up on the blog!


Adventures at NeoCon, Part 1

Earlier this week, I was fortunate enough to be able to make it down to the Merchandise Mart for NeoCon. I saw a lot of familiar faces there, but for those who couldn’t make it, don’t worry, I took pictures!

For those who may not know what NeoCon is, every June, the Interior Design community gathers at the Merchandise Mart to see what’s new in the industry. Manufacturers and vendors announce and display new products, paint companies reveal their color of the year for next year, and seminars about challenges that designers face in their projects are held. It’s also a great place to network! I left the house on Monday morning with maybe 50 business cards, I came home on Wednesday afternoon with around 20 left. That’s 30 connections made. It’s especially great for students as admissions badges for students are free! Interested in going? NeoCon 51 will be held on June 10-12 2019, mark it in your calendars today.

Without further ado, here’s what I saw at this year’s NeoCon!


There were quite a few seminars going on that were discussing the future of office design, the common thread being moving away from open office plans. Despite this, just about all of the office furniture set out on the showroom floors were benching systems. However these systems started to have more curves in their design and less straight lines as well as customization of privacy and noise reduction.

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In addition to an abundance of benching systems, there were quite a few retailers who were either expanding into or specializing in privacy pods for the office. Some where glass, some had open sides, some resembled traditional recording booths. With such a wide variety of styles, it was interesting to see how each product differentiated it’s self from the competition and their strategies for getting you to look at their product. One manufacturer would plant a tree if you gave them your email address.

Green and living walls have been a trend for a while. What caught my eye was the amount of vendors using moss instead of live plants. Touted as being lower upkeep (it doesn’t need light or water) and having superior acoustical properties, it was fun to see companies make cool shapes out of colored reindeer moss for custom green wall solutions.


I didn’t get as much time to look in the healthcare furniture booths as I’d like, so I don’t have much to report there, other than pattern and color have seem to come to play on not just on guest seating, but exam tables as well.

That’s it for this installment! Check back tomorrow for some of the cool products I spied!

Have a cool competition, job opportunity, or other design related news? Let us know! Email us and we’ll get it up on the blog!


We spoke to the owner of this firm at the Portfolio Show, and encourage anyone interested in the Kitchen & Bath and Residential construction & remodeling industry to reach out to them. They are open to talking to recent graduates.

Check out there website HERE. They do some beautiful projects.OHI position

Environmental Materials Field Trip to the Mart

Yesterday, the Environmental Materials class took a whirlwind tour of the Merchandise Mart. Among the stops were the showrooms of Ann Sacks, Carnegie, Maya Romanoff, Benjamin Moore, Osborne and Little and Bolyu! Students also had the opportunity to gather samples for their Health Club projects.


Environmental Materials and Applications is a 1000 level course required for both the Associates Degree and Kitchen and Bath Certificate programs. Students learn how to select appropriate materials for their projects and how to estimate their usage needs and costs. The class culminates in a project to design a Health Club and select all the furniture and finishes. If you are interested in taking this class, contact Kelly Dunn, who teaches the course.

Have a cool competition, job opening, or other design related news? Let us know! Email us and we’ll get it up on the blog!

Job Opening at HDW Interiors!


HDW Interiors is looking for a recent graduate or alumni to fill a position within their company. HDW Interiors is located in Merrillville, Indiana and would be especially convenient for members of the COD ID family who live in the Southern Suburbs. They specialize in healthcare, hospitality, education and general office design.

This position is great for people who have completed the FF&E class as part of their studies, as they are looking for someone who has experience with furniture specification software like ProjectMatrix or CAP 2020. Other great skills to have include AutoCAD and Sketchup.

If you feel like this is the perfect job for you, please email your resume and portfolio to Jean Nejman, their business director, at

Do you have a cool competition, job opportunity, or other design related news? Let us know! Email us and we’ll get it up on the blog.

IIDA RED Awards and ASID Excelence Awards Close Soon!

The IIDA RED Awards close to submissions soon and ASID Design Excelence Awards are opening to submissions soon. School may be out this week, but that makes it the perfect time to brush up your projects and submit them. The best part? You can use the same project for both competitions! Make the best of the time and perfect one project and submit it to both competitions to increase your chances! Remember, entering competitions is a great way to get your name and work out there!

The Red Awards close March 31st, the end of this week. Click the image below to go to the entry page.

2018 IIDA RED Logo Square

The Design Excellence Awards open April 9th, in two weeks. Click the image below to go to the entry page.

DE awards

Job Opportunities at OPTO International



OPTO International (Whom the Contract Studio class visited recently, read more about that trip here!) is looking to hire a Design Intern as well as a Design Assistant. OPTO is a fast-growing company and these would be excellent opportunities for anyone interested in retail or contract design.

For the Design Intern position, they are looking for someone who can:

  • Work effectively in a team environment and be a strong supporting member
    of team efforts
  • Exude positive attitude and enthusiasm for success and influence other with this
  • Demonstrate willingness to continually learn about the Retail Industry to better
    understand and grow OPTO in that market place
  • Prioritize and work independently with minimal supervision
  • Communicate quickly, clearly, and effectively
  • Multi-task and still maintain a sharp eye for detail
  • Demonstrate effective stress management & time management skills
  • Outstanding communication skills both verbal and written
  • Demonstrate strong organization skills
  • Effectively use AutoCAD, Adobe Creative Suite, and other applications

As the Intern, you would be responsible for:

  • Design Support
  • Prepare client drawings for client proposals
  • Prepare client drawings for client orders
  • Revise quotes
  • Enthusiastically communicate with design team
  • Collecting and mailing catalogs and finish samples to client
  • Support the replenishment of the materials library

The Design Assistant is a much more in-depth role and is perfect for someone who can do all of the above and is in possession of an Associates degree in art or design related fields. This is a perfect opportunity if you are set to graduate at the end of this semester!

The Design Assistant would be responsible for:

  • Concierge Services
  • Capture all prospect and lead data (Salescall inquiries and Web inquiries)
  • Proactively research and qualify incoming leads and assess opportunity potential
  • Establish a client profile for new opportunities with qualified information and
  • Educate prospects and leads on OPTO’s products and services
  • Traffic opportunities to Design team based on established criteria
  • Follow-up on prospects and leads with client specific material to help the
    design/sales process
  • Properly document communication between prospects and OPTO for ease
    of transition from concierge to Design team
  • Enthusiastically communicate with both prospects and colleagues
  • Understand the project requirements and properly communicate client
    interaction to Design team

If you are the person to fill either of these positions, please contact Shelly Mocchi for more information.

Do you have a cool competition, job opportunity, or other design related news? Let us know! Email us and we’ll get it up on the blog!

COD Student Yvonne Franchini on an award winning team at “Stitch”- an IIDA-Illinois Chapter Signature Event

kmr and i on stage

COD Student, Yvonne Franchini, and her friend, Katelyn (the model), on stage at the IIDA-Illinois Chapter’s signature event “Stitch”, held in March at the House of Blues.

We always encourage students to participate in events sponsored by our local professional design organizations. Let’s let Yvonne tell you herself why you need to take advantage of all of the opportunities you can:

“Stitch 2018 was without a doubt my favorite experience as a COD Interior Design student. Through the event I was able to not only network with a great group of Chicago architects, designers and manufacturers, but I was also given the opportunity to collaborate freely and creatively with them, as well as learn more about their companies and their contributions to the industry. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with than those at Heitman Architects and Trendway. They gave me the creative freedom to take on a large portion of the project, and as a student that was a very satisfying feeling.”

KMR wins people's choice award!

Their entry won the “Andy Warhol People’s Choice Award”

“In addition, they took us to the Trendway factory in Michigan, where I learned a lot about the furniture-making process and their popular “Feek” material, which we used in our design. Heitman Architects uses some of the most innovative computer design technology to create in their work place and allowed us to experiment with all of it in order to better visualize our ideas. I could not be more grateful to these two companies for trusting me to take on so much of the project, and for giving me all of the knowledge and the tools necessary to do so. This project required a lot of organized meetings, group work, and creative problem solving, which helped me to better understand what it takes to work in this industry. By the end of this project, I had fully designed a beautiful corset out of Trendway chair backs.” 


“I was also placed in charge of hair and makeup the day of the event, and doing it was even more enjoyable because the model we used was my very best friend.”

makeup application

“My dad even helped out and the team was so thankful to him for lending his carpentry skills to our cause.  The rest of my teammates created a beautiful cape made of Trendway textiles, a skirt made of “Feek” and 3-D printed jewelry that displayed the Trendway logo and our art theme.”

led corset cage

“In the end, everything came together so well and all of our hard work paid off when we won the “Andy Warhol People’s Choice Award.” This experience, and all of the great people I worked with on this project will be unforgettable for me. Thanks to IIDA Illinois and College of Dupage for granting me such a wonderful opportunity!”

back of our shirts