This editorial appeared in the May 2014 issue of Contract. To read the digital edition, click here.
As we approach June, we are preparing with gusto for two forthcoming big events in Chicago: NeoCon® and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention. You’re receiving this issue just after HD Expo and ICFF, and the issue in your hands is the largest May NeoCon® preview issue of Contract in six years. So, needless to say, it’s a busy time.
We are excited for NeoCon® as Contract celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Best of NeoCon® awards program for the products that will be introduced at the show. As I note in my letter on page 5 of the NeoCon® Ideabook published within this issue, Contract is proud to produce this awards program year after year, which involves considerable coordination by my colleague Eileen McMorrow, the competition director, and Contract staff to pull it off flawlessly. Thank you to all jurors, past and present, who are design professionals that commit their own time to be a part of this program. NeoCon® exhibitors recognize the stature of the competition, given the professional jury process and overall integrity. What product will win Best of Competition? Find out at the Best of NeoCon® Breakfast on Monday, June 9. Purchase tickets, and view all of the Best of NeoCon® entries, at contract-network.com.
Just two weeks after NeoCon®, I personally am looking forward to the 2014 AIA National Convention because I have had the unique privilege to serve as the chairman of the AIA Convention Advisory Committee for this year’s event to be held in Chicago, June 26-28. For more than a year and a half, 2014 AIA National President Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, and I have been collaborating with the convention advisory committee, AIA Chicago, and AIA national office staff to develop the theme, “Design With Purpose,” identify the keynote speakers, and develop content for an outstanding convention. It’s been a rare opportunity to serve the profession in this capacity and, therefore, indulge me as I am taking the liberty to mention the AIA Convention perhaps more than we usually would for our Contract audience.Here is the key point for the AIA Convention: It is especially worthwhile for designers and architects to attend this year because of outstanding, of-the-moment keynote speakers. Some are outside the norm of what one might expect.
The AIA Convention opening morning general session will begin with a keynote by Chicago architect Jeanne Gang, FAIA, who won the 2013 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award for Architecture. In that same session, Theaster Gates will also deliver a keynote. Gates is a Chicago-based artist who has developed a significant variety of work, including large-scale urban interventions—renovations of buildings on Chicago’s South Side—that are making a real difference in the city. Gates has committed to the revitalization of the neediest neighborhoods in Chicago through an inspired marriage of urban design, community engagement, and cultural development. He is positively transforming Chicago with a sense of purpose. I’ve seen Theaster speak, and his message makes one think. He is not approaching design as an architect or real estate professional, and the neighborhoods he is focusing on are some of the poorest in the country. There are no easy answers or solutions to the evolution of cities, especially in places where the challenges are immense.The final keynote speaker at the AIA Convention will be Tony Hsieh, the 40-year-old entrepreneur and venture capitalist who is the founder and CEO of online clothing retailer Zappos.com. Hsieh is also leading a forward-thinking effort to rejuvenate portions of downtown Las Vegas as places to live, work, and play, focusing on the growing tech sector. With Gates and Hsieh, the AIA Convention promises to portray varied approaches that are vital, youthful ideas for cities of the 21st century.
Happy 20th Anniversary to IIDA!
A special congratulations to the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The association will mark the year with a variety of events and initiatives. Notably, Sunday, June 8, will be declared Design Day by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. That afternoon, the IIDA Annual Meeting will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where the 2014–2015 international board of directors will be inducted and award winners will be honored. I’ll see you there!
John Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA, Hon. IIDA
Editor in Chief