My NeoCon Momo.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My design for the 8th floor food court during NeoCon was a hit!  A smash!  A hit!  Yay!  I'm thrilled!

As I mentioned before, my old pal Geoff invited me to design the space in conjunction with Goose Island Catering for the three days of NeoCon.  He's got this spiffy company, Criterion Productions, and he puts up events and festivals all over the city.  It's been amazing to watch him grow this business over the years and I'm mighty proud of his accomplishments.

So this design....as the budget for this was, well, um, nil, we were quite elated that the Mart picked up the tab and made this happen.  As the budget was um, nil, we had to be smart and resourceful.

But first I just thought it was sooooo cool that Geoff asked me to design this.

Second, wow, at NeoCon?  Seriously?  In the Merchandise Mart?  A smidge intimidating since it's only the biggest most important hugest contract/commercial interior design event I venture to say all year.  All those designer types floating around? -- this had to not be poopy.  A thrilling opportunity nonetheless.

Third, the Mart.  NeoCon.  Whaaaat?!?!  Cool.

Fourth?  It pulled together and everyone was ear-to-ear smiles.

Thought I'd show you a few shots of how it turned out since I'm proud and smiley myself.

So here's a before....

Photo courtesy of Criterion Productions
Um.  Wow.  Chipper space, yah?

Photo courtesy of Criterion Productions
Ooophf.  The Mart was using this room as storage.  Stating the obvious as I do, a-yup.

View south -- note the windows.  Photo courtesy of Criterion Productions
Dark.  Industrial.  Gloomy.  Very raw.

No problem!  I could turn this frown upside down.

The area we had available to us was about 11,100 square feet.  Huuuge!  The bank of windows along the south wall overlooked the Chicago River....


Wow, what a view, right?!  That's looking south west.  I love this city.

Geoff informed me that a new museum was setting up an area in this food court/beer garden/cafe area called Foodseum, which is a very clever creation.  So we were talking and chatting and came up with the concept of Chicago neighborhood summer festival.  Then after a meeting with the uber lovely fantastic Mart ladies, the Foodseum folks, Goose Island and it seemed like one hundred other folks, the idea morphed into Chicago backyard barbecue.

We wanted to bring a hint of city backyard neighborhood summertime to the onslaught of folks who would likely not be able to venture out of the Mart general vicinity.  Albeit maybe a little upscale-ish but hey, it's the Mart and NeoCon, folks.  We also wanted the space to be a relaxing, happy, bright, lively, yet catch-your-breath-in-the-midst-of-all-the-design-product-madness kind of spot.

So here's what I did!


Holy night and day, right?!

Those breathtaking trees and benches were lent to the Mart ladies specifically for this and I was embarrassingly far too eager to accept.  Those trees are insane.  Birch tree trunks with wool felt "leaves" and they light up.  They're about seventeen feet tall.  I found out later one tree retails for $17,000.  Yes, you heard me right.  $17,000.  Wow, yeowch.

Go check out their website, Green Furniture Concept.  Dreamy stuff.


We strung globe string lights across the space which, yeah, in daylight is a little tough to see.  That huge green patch is the Foss EcoFi Tee Time indoor/outdoor carpet I love so much (um, planter pouches!  Um, cork boards!)  I cut the curvy shapes to break up the linear-ness of the space.

At that far end there in the photo above, that was one Foodseum installation area sharing information about three city neighborhoods and they were fabulous, well done.


The seating areas consisted of picnic benches provided by Goose Island on astroturf rugs (there I go with the astroturf again but hey, the Mart had it) plus tables and chairs provided by the Mart.  We brought in some faux plants and I planted twenty two planters with faux flowers and greenery.

These photos I took were at about 4:30 in the afternoon, hence so few people in here.  NeoCon runs until 5 pm daily so all those tired designers were probably heading out for foot massages or foot soaks or dinner and drinks.


The west side of the space consisted of Goose Island's set up with a large chalkboard menu, a food booth and a beer booth.  Foodseum set up their main area next to them as well.  I had shade sails and multi color mini lights strung up over there to add visual pull and interest.



Planting twenty two planters, man, that took longer than I expected but they were colorful, green, had height and added more outdoor backyard visual interest throughout the space.


Those incredible trees also come as pendants too.  It appears the largest pendant didn't arrive but the two smaller ones make me drool in want.


Here's looking west towards the food/beer set up.  Goose Island brought their rustic counters, the barrels, picnic benches and farmhouse tables.

So yeah.  My NeoCon moment in the sun.  :)  Little giddy butt wiggle dance.  I'm a very happy girl.

Oh but omg you guys, oh I have so much for you, coming soon, it's awesome.  I've been a busy little beaver so yay!  I'll see you right soon with loads more fun!

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