The commercial design industry heads to Chicago for NeoCon 2019.
Covering 10 floors of The Mart in Chicago, NeoCon is the place to be to see the latest in commercial interiors. The annual event showcases new products, an array of educational seminars and a host of networking opportunities.
The 2019 show, held June 10-12, also featured a few firsts. It was the first time The Mart’s 15th floor participated, showcasing all things outdoor. From massive umbrellas to high-performance outdoor seating, outdoor furnishings manufacturers were able to open their showrooms to this commercial design community. This also marked the first year of NeoCon Plaza, an outdoor installation outside The Mart along the Chicago River. The plaza served as a lounge for relaxation, work, and refreshments, and also allowed sponsors to show off their goods.
From hospitality to healthcare and all commercial spaces in between, NeoCon had something for every commercial designer. We zeroed in on commercial office furniture to find out how residential touches are making their way into modern workplaces.
Spotlight on Offices
Comfort, convenience and collaboration were the main themes in commercial office furniture at NeoCon. Leaning into the open office trend, many manufacturers have designed furniture that is lightweight and easily movable, allowing for multiple configurations to conform to the needs of modern workplaces. The resimercial trend has also permeated commercial office furniture, blurring the lines between work and home.
“This generation of workers and leaders are blending (no longer balancing) work and life, as one spills into the other,” says Andrea Gauss, Senior Product Portfolio Manager for Allsteel. “It is intuitive that the overall spaces and furniture would do the same. Leaders are looking for furniture to provide soft, humanized elements throughout their spaces to not only attract new workers but also empower employees to do their best work within these curated spaces.”
Gauss is seeing a shift from square edges and straight lines in office furniture to something more inviting and comfortable.
“We’ve rethought our materials, aesthetic forms and even application settings to address this shift,” she says. “But residential furniture is not designed or built for the same activities as contract furniture. So we’ve been really cognizant of geometries that are appropriate for work postures. This includes things like seat depth, firmness of foam and uprightness of the back angle. We’re also digging into relationships between objects like table and seat heights or standing and seated heights layered with technology.”
In addition to showcasing the cozier side of office furniture, NeoCon also featured items with built-in technology, like Montisa’s milking stool-inspired line of office furnishings, many of which offer built-in outlets that blend into the work tables’ simple designs. Other manufacturers, like Safco, highlighted their customizable solutions, emphasizing the importance of personalizing the workplace for maximum comfort and productivity.
Home + Work
These products seen at NeoCon are bringing the comforts of residential design to office spaces.
3form’s Divy Mobile is a rectangular acoustic panel, room partition and writable working surface designed for flexible placement in an open office or coworking space. www.3-form.com
LightArt’s Acoustic Shade brings a warm and comforting style traditionally seen in residential design to office environments and other busy public spaces. When clustered, these fixtures tame noise distraction and mitigate privacy concerns. www.lightart.com
Commercial office furniture manufacturer AIS debuted Calibrate Community, a spine-based benching system that combines the substance of private offices with the warmth of residential design for an open-plan solution. www.ais-inc.com
From Mikomax, the Hush line of mobile, customizable and compact acoustic pods are a solution to the problems characteristic of the open office floor plan: distraction, sensory overload and discomfort. www.mikomaxsmartoffice.com
From Allsteel, the Retreat Executive/Conference Chair provides a humanized and approachable aesthetic to the traditional executive chair. Available in mid- and low-back options. www.allsteeloffice.com
Designtex’s Celliant collection supports an active working lifestyle by providing an upholstery solution that is proven to increase localized circulation within minutes of contact. www.designtex.com
Named after its ability to adapt to its environment, the Chameleon table from ICF is refined in its engineering, functional in design and versatile in form. www.icfsource.com
A freestanding nook for solo work, the Lagunitas Focus Nook from Coalesse optimizes space within an open plan while allowing users to stay centered and free from distraction. www.coalesse.com