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Open For Business: neo Interior Design Studio

Meet Michael Betlock and Haley Kaspari, neo Design Duo

Neo was conceptualized almost a year and a half ago as Founder Michael Betlock saw an opportunity in the FM market for a more individualized boutique approach to commercial interior design. After working out of his home for nine months, his business exploded beyond the capacity of his small basement office and he knew neo needed a place to grow. During Betlock’s search for studio spaces in Fargo, neo continued to expand and became a team of two, bringing Haley Kaspari on board.

The main objective for the new space was to create a collaborative environment that fosters out-of-theordinary design solutions.

“Haley and I are both fully immersed in one another’s projects as to keep our design philosophies aligned with neo’s mission to create unexpected spaces and unique environments,” Betlock said.

His goal is that every project completed under the studio’s name will scream “NEO.”

They also factored in all of the technology required to perform their duties as designers.

After many renditions of floor plans at multiple locations, they decided to take on the task of renovating an abandoned hair salon in the 25th St Market Professional Building. The existing space had an awkward layout and was comprised of 18 fluorescent shop light fixtures, purple sponge paint and mirrored display shelves.

“Our goal was to remove all traces of its former life and create a space that embraced the eclectic and intriguing elements that set neo IDS apart,” Betlock said.

After finalizing a floor plan, demolition began with the help of C2 Construction, and the space was completely gutted to give them a blank slate. With blood, sweat and happy tears, they painted, tiled, laid carpet, hung wallcovering and even designed and built their own breakroom island. Their design approach is to go all-in and scale back as the client sees fit. In this case, they felt the eclectic vibe and over-thetop finishes spoke to neo’s vision. Little by little, the space came to life and a few months later, they could not have been happier with the finished product.

Open For Business

As a two-person studio, neo loves the flexibility of their hours during the work week. Walk-in traffic is always welcome. Typically, their office is open from 9am-5pm on weekdays but being a smal business neo is able to extend their hours by appointment. They understand not all clients have the ability to mest during typical business hours and will work around any schedule that fits the needs of the specific project and client.

We want each customer experience to be unique.”

-Michael Betlock

Creating a Customer Experience

When clients enter, they can expect to immerse themselves in a unique space that inspires their own creative vision. Since neo has incorporated so many different textures and finishes, a client can imagine what they would like to see in their own space. The neo team has already had clients take inspiration from their studio and ask for an oversized wall mural, a unique tile backsplash install, a tin ceiling effect and even a graffiti brick wall!

“We would love for each client to enter the space and have to do a ‘double take’ on every square foot of our studio,” Betlock said. “Even clients that visit us and initially say ‘I have no design taste/ideas’ will have their own creativity positively charged and they will be able to personally explore fresh and exciting ideas for their own space.”

Offering Clients More

In Betlock’s previous work experiences, interior design always seemed to be put on the back burner until a project was already well developed. This often resulted in a finished product that did not seem cohesive inside and out. At neo, they begin the design process simultaneously with their architectural partner, Übl Design Group from Bismarck, ND. They also offer their clients the one-onone attention they deserve. If a client needs numerous meetings to fully understand their project and the process, neo is more than willing to walk them through each step. The resources they have on-site provide the ability to walk through a project in their cozy conference room and quickly substitute materials via their finish-sample library.

While looking for a home for neo, Betlock and Kaspari looked at many spaces they thought would work well to incorporate all needs of the studio.

Must-haves checklist:

  • Three large office spaces
  • A materials library
  • A small break room
  • A comfortable conference room.

In addition, neo prides itself on providing the best value for each individual; they feel design should not be something that gets pushed aside because of budget. Oftentimes, they see small (and large) businesses trying the DIY approach to design due to a lack of funds and/or the misunderstood value of thoughtful interior design. The result ends up feeling disjointed and uninspired. neo will work with each client to provide a solution that fits their personal budget and reflects their own company’s culture.

neo is excited for continued growth and engagement within the community. They intend to bring the highest level of unique design to the Midwest and feel their new studio space is the perfect environment to help them expand and continue to find success. They also look forward to using their space and skills to support the community through volunteer events and networking opportunities.

Artwork & Decor

“Each piece throughout the space is specially curated and holds meaning that has shaped who I am throughout my life,” Betlock said. “One of my favorite pieces is the Banksy ‘Panda with Guns’ graffiti as it advocates for peace in a truly unexpected way. I also love the Molly Ringwald/Breakfast Club pop-art print on canvas.”

This classic movie comes with a timeless message that has defined neo in a particular way: “You see us as you want to see us in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, a princess and a criminal.” -The Breakfast Club, 1985.

As neo continues to grow, they are always looking for additional pieces that inspire and intrigue. Pieces that make a person take a second look. Some that they have acquired recently are the vintage photographs that reflect Betlock and Kaspari’s individual personalities. Kaspari chose the “vintage ladies with tattoos” to adorn her office, while Betlock found a special connection to “child smoking with chicken.”

The Perfect Office Pets are…Ants?

While searching for an office pet, neo wanted something “untraditional” that would also give hours of entertainment. A goldfish simply wasn’t the answer. They considered sea monkeys, jellyfish and hermit crabs. Their web search for a designer sea monkey aquarium took them down a rabbit hole that led to custom designer ant farm frames! This solution seemed perfect; it was unique, modern and a living work of art.

neo quickly realized the ants embodied a new approach to the currently popular “live moss wall.” The ants allowed for biophilic design to be injected into their space in a previously unexplored way. They love the symbolism of their tiny architects working alongside them as they build bridges, excavate tunnels and create their own collaborative working environment. neo will be posting updates of their ever-changing environment on their social media pages @neo_ids

For more information, visit neointeriordesignstudio.com

Written by Josiah Kopp

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