Outdoor Design Conference Coming to Chicago in March

The Design Center at Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago will host a day of outdoor-themed seminars for interior designers, architects and landscape architects. Here's what to know.

Alison Martin
01/23/2019
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Outdoor Design Conference logo

In recent years, the line between indoor and outdoor living has blurred. It used to be that these two areas never crossed paths, and they rarely shared the same design styles. Interiors mattered most while outdoor spaces were usually an afterthought.

Not so much anymore. Thanks to improvements in the quality and design of outdoor furniture as well as the consumer's changing need for performance fabrics and easy-clean area rugs, the outdoors have started to move in, and the Design Center at Merchandise Mart in Chicago continues to look forward on this trend.

Home to the Casual Market, which happens every September, the Design Center has announced the dates and details of its fifth annual Outdoor Design Conference. Happening on March 7, 2019, the Outdoor Design Conference aims to help interior designers, architects and landscape architects design better outdoor spaces and learn what consumers want. The show is only open to the trade and free to attend.

Read on to learn what's coming at the new Outdoor Design Conference and what attendees can expect.

The show

The Outdoor Design Conference will take place on March 7, 2019, and it's an all-day event, which is great for anyone coming from other cities. March weather is unpredictable in Chicago — it may be in the 40s or the city might be covered in a foot of snow. Be prepared with a heavy coat and boots made for rain and snow.

Merchandise Mart is located downtown, and it has its own El stop on the Brown and Purple lines. Attendees can register on the first floor, and all seminars and events will happen on Floors 14-16. You can access all floors via the elevators, but there are staircases between all floors, which may be faster as you move from showroom to showroom.

The conference is free to attend, but you do need to register, which can be done here. As you pack your bags, don't forget to bring:

- Notepads and pens

- A light sweater (not kidding, Chicago is not warm in March)

- Comfortable shoes

At noon, participating showrooms will be serving lunches, drinks and light bites. This will be a great opportunity to network with the companies in the Mart. If you're still hungry, there are a number of restaurants on the second floor.

Seminars not to miss

Outdoor spaces come with their own needs and challenges — especially those in snow-covered Chicago and the Midwest — and the best designers and architects will know how to best maximize space and source quality products from companies. Even if you consider yourself an expert on outdoor design, new product innovations and consumer tastes are changing the market.

For those looking to improve their outdoor design skills, here are the seminars not to be missed.

Senior Living and Aging in Place: Tailoring Outdoor Environments For Your Clients’ Needs

Seniors may be aging in place, but that doesn't mean they're not staying indoors. As more Baby Boomers opt to stay in their homes and adapt them to their aging needs, these consumers still want to enjoy their outdoor spaces, but designers and architects need to be forward thinking.

John Yedinak, Managing Editor at Senior Housing News, will lead a panel discussion with other design professionals about how the aging-in-place trend extends to the outdoors, what these consumers want and best practices for delivering great style that will be accessible for years to come.

Location: Anacara Co, Suite 14-127

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Technology Systems and Products for Outdoor Spaces

As you will soon be reading about in the March 2019 issue of Furniture, Lighting & Decorsmart home products can be used outdoors as well as indoors, with new products in security, lighting and even gardening hitting the markets this year. The smart home trend isn't slowing down, so it's time to learn how to use smart products as well as other electronics in outdoor spaces.

In this seminar, attendees will learn about new outdoor technology and how the environment can affect which technologies are best suited to the project. Real-world projects will be used throughout the presentation to show how the design tips and advice can be directly applied to today's design projects.  

Location: Artisan Electronics Group, Suite 1486

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Understanding Outdoor Materials and Educating your Client

More and more consumers care about what their products are made of and whether they're made sustainably or not. But sustainability doesn't only happen indoors. 

Scott Gregory, Director of Sales for Palecek, will lead a discussion on the different sustainable materials used in outdoor furniture, lighting and decor. He will talk about why certain materials are used and how they stand up against harsh outdoor climates. He will also touch on how to better educate clients about the different types of outdoor materials. As Robin Wilson told us, interior designers should be leading the conversation when it comes to sustainability.

Location: CAI Designs, Suite 1495

Time: 2:30 p.m.

 

Registration is happening now, so don't miss this great conference!

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