What are your goals for 2020? Whether you’ve resolved to expand your network, seek new inspiration, or simply to keep on keepin’ on, conferences and trade shows can be a useful (and fun) way to reinvest in the design community this year. Here are our picks for some of the best in 2020.
When: February 26-28, 2020
Where: JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa
This invite-only networking event is all about Big Ideas. Luminaries from outside the design industry — from fields as diverse as film and food — lead inspiring talks in a low-pressure environment, and the result is an influx of fresh thinking and inspiration for designers. This year, speakers include groundbreaking chef and humanitarian José Andrés, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson, and founder of the mass meditation movement The Big Quiet, Jesse Israel.
When: March 12-16, 2020
Where: Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Cozumel, Mexico — aboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas
A conference on a cruise ship! Needless to say, we’re psyched. All Aboard Design refers to itself as a “one-to-one matchmaking experience in hospitality interior design” and is hosted aboard Indiewalls client Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. The long weekend is focused on maximum connection-making and targeted one-on-one meetings — with lots of tropical fun thrown in as well, like sailing, snorkeling, and laid-back beach time.
When: March 19-22, 2020
Where: Pier 94, New York City
What’s the next big thing in design? Whatever it is, you’ll most likely find it at the AD Design Show. This year’s show includes over 400 new and established brands and will likely draw 40,000 members of the design community. We love this take from AD100 designer Jeffrey Bilhuber: “As seasoned as I am a professional, one would think I’ve seen it all, but more than half of what I see [at AD Design Show] I’ve never seen before.”
When: May 5-7, 2020
Where: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas
HD Expo is the largest trade show and hospitality conference, running strong since 1992. Presented by Hospitality Design, the event brings together designers, architects, developers and purchasers. Top specialists lead sessions, and many can earn you CEU/LU credits. This year’s sessions tackle crucial contemporary issues, like diversity in the design world, design in the age of “climate chaos,” and what the experience economy means for designers.
When: May 17-20, 2020
Where: Javits Center, NYC
The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is a tremendous opportunity for designers, retailers, developers, and architects to “exchange inspiration and ignite a competitive drive for contemporary residential and commercial interiors.” Past years have featured meet-and-greets with some of the biggest names in furniture design, as well as book signings, CEU-credited presentations, and exhibits showcasing design trends from around the world. We can’t wait to see what’s on deck for this year.
When: May 31-June 2, 2020
Where: Marriott Marquis, NYC
This conference is a great fit for anyone who wants to dive into the economic side of the hospitality industry. Presentations showcase the latest trends in hospitality, current and noteworthy economic influences on the industry, and projections for the coming years. Last year’s conference tackled of-the-moment topics like the role of big tech in hospitality and the importance of diversity and inclusion in the corporate hospitality workforce.
When: June 8-10, 2020
Where: The Mart, Chicago
NeoCon’s snappy tagline — “What’s next is what’s here” — sums up the ethos of this iconic and often cutting-edge tradeshow and conference, now in its 51st year. This year, over 500 major manufacturers and emerging brands will be exhibiting, and over 100 CEU sessions will be offered. 2020 Keynote presentations will cover captivating issues in the design industry, such as realigning design around human behavior and the emerging field of spatial justice.
When: August 2-4, 2020
Where: Fairmont Southampton, Southampton, Bermuda
Part educational conference, part high-impact networking event, BITAC Purchasing & Design East is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for relationship-building and one-on-one meetings with executive-level decision-makers. Attendees come from top design, architectural and purchasing firms, the hospitality and gaming industries, cruise lines, large corporate brands, and more. The goal of BITAC for these executives is to “enhance their competitive advantage” through new vendor relationships. We can’t recommend BITAC enough for anyone who wants to meaningfully build their network.
When: September 16-18, 2020
Where: Mohonk Mountain House, Upstate New York
Healthy and sustainable construction is a trillion-dollar industry that is doubling every three years, and Grounded by Design exists to increase the opportunities for education and inspiration in this growing industry. Sustainable design and wellness are the focus of this two-day event, which includes educational sessions, intimate networking events, and 12 guaranteed one-on-one meetings. The focus on wellness extends outside the conference room, as well. Between events, attendees are treated to nature walks, spa visits, live music, bonfires, yoga, and fitness activities.
When: November 8-9, 2020
Where: Javits Center, NYC
Another one of the hospitality industry’s largest trade shows and conferences, BDNY never disappoints as an opportunity to expand your network. With a focus on the hospitality industry’s boutique and lifestyle segments, BDNY is particularly great for designers working on one-of-a-kind hotels, restaurants, or spa spaces. We especially love the designed spaces, which allow attendees to be fully immersed in the latest industry trends. We’ve had a lot of fun at BDNY in the past, and we can’t wait to see what’s on deck for 2020.
What events will inspire you this year? Will you be at any of the above? Don’t hesitate to shoot us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts on how to make the most of conference-going in 2020.
Header collage: (clockwise from left) the Ouroboros Lounge at BDNY 2018 co-sponsored by Indiewalls, NeoCon 2019, Indiewalls booth at BDNY 2019, Neocon 2019, Neocon 2019