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Collaborate 2017: Success in the City of Angels!

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

The weather in Los Angeles was incredible and so was the Collaborate conference held at the newly opened InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown.

More than 120 individuals participated in the Institute’s annual event, which blends one-to-one meetings, educational sessions and plenty of casual networking opportunities. Among the attendees were 20 professional and allied members along with more than a dozen trade partners, who came together for the sixth edition of the event. “Collaborate is an intimate gathering by design,” explains Tia Potter, president of Retail Connect Events, the Institute’s longtime Collaborate partner. “Between the meetings, sessions and meals, everyone has a chance to meet and get to know each other.”

Once again the range of retailers and design consultants attending Collaborate 2017 represented the fast-changing retail landscape. Quick-service food retailers, specialty brands and traditional retailers with expansion and remodel plans, represented more than half of the designers and specifiers at Collaborate, “This is an event that Macy’s looks forward to each year,” notes Jaime Le Blanc, RDI, senior designer for the department store chain. “We find it a great way to find new suppliers/partners to work with that may not typically call on us.”

On the consultant side, the industry’s largest design firms were in attendance along with firms receiving honors for projects entered in this year’s International Design Competition. Allied member Adam Jones, managing director for Retail Habitats, comments, “ The one-to-one meeting continues to be my favorite format for this kind of interaction, and far more useful than tradeshows.”

Collaborate product and service exhibitors offer a full range of products needed for retail interiors from décor and graphics, to surface treatments, fixtures and lighting. For Institute trade member Lena Lim, business developer at B+N Industries, “Attending Collaborate for our first time was a pleasant surprise and a great way to meet top designers and thought leaders in a semiformal, but fun atmosphere.”

Three educational sessions coordinated by Brian Dyches, FRDI, were another highlight. The trio of presentations included the topics of experiential design and the influence on retail design exerted by Gen Z and Millennials, plus a tech talk devoted to the possibilities of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. “The Collaborate team once again succeeded in producing educational sessions on subjects that are greatly affecting the retail industry,” says International President Claudia Cerchiara, RDI. “I can’t wait to the line up for next year.”

Save the dates for Collaborate 2018! The event heads back east to the Seaport Hotel, Boston, September 16 -18, 2018. For more information about how to participate, contact Tia Potter, Retail Connect Events, 917-846-5185, or visit

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