NeoCon 2017 Recap
June 27, 2017
Our Top Stand-Outs
Even before it began, NeoCon 2017 was primed to raise the bar, with the amount of end users and key decision makers attending the event now comprising 20% of the audience. There were more Best of NeoCon submissions than ever before with a staggering 425 entries. A significant portion of the million square foot Merchandise Mart was devoted to showcasing new-to-NeoCon brands, while floor after floor of permanent showrooms buzzed with 50,000+ foot traffic and excitement.
Trends to note this year included the expansion of ancillary options, as evidenced by Knoll’s recent acquisition of DatesWeiser and their now adjacent showroom spaces in The Mart. “DatesWeiser plays an integral role in the design of inspiring high performance workplaces,” said Andrew Cogan, Knoll President and CEO. “Its sophisticated meeting and conference tables and credenzas set a standard for design, quality and technology integration. We look forward to adding the DatesWeiser products to the Knoll arsenal of ‘ancillary’ offerings.”
The Mart’s own exterior renovation was a nod towards the industry’s expansion of outdoor furniture and the increasing focus on outside space in contract furniture design. Themes of Wellness and Hospitality continued to be forefront, as product design remained focused on providing a healthier future for users. The need to appeal to increasing generational diversity in the workplace was also a major trend, as manufacturers infused their offerings with whimsy to attract new talent, while still appeasing the decision-makers in other generational cohorts.
The Buzz at CE
In a sea of innovation, it takes truly exceptional offerings to stand out among the excellence. This year, our designers called out some incredible products of note that are completely redefining the industry in their respective categories.
Winner: Best of NeoCon GOLD | Files and Mobile Storage
Knoll won a prestigious GOLD Award from Contract Magazine for their Anchor Raised Storage collection. This system was designed to address today’s blend of personal and professional storage needs in the workplace while keeping size and finish options at the forefront. The raised, footed base offers a lightweight aesthetic with the capability to distribute and manage power below the base. It’s simple, elegant, classic and of course, always modern.
This year Knoll’s showroom featured a beautiful gallery-like tribute to celebrate 70 years of KnollTextiles. Florence Knoll originally founded KnollTextiles in 1947 by adapting simple menswear fabric from haberdasheries for furniture applications. With this bold and innovative move, she forever changed the landscape of modern textiles. Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas searched the rich archives of KnollTextiles for classic textural solid textiles in order to create new products with clean, clear color and modern, elegant textures.
“My team and I studied multiple archives and worked with various mills to reinterpret the colors, structure and materials of these textiles. Our 70thanniversary was a great opportunity to revisit and reinvigorate product from past decades adding even more choice of KnollTextiles for today’s specifier.”
– Dorothy Cosonas, Creative Director, Knoll
At Connext, DIRTT revealed an innovative new offering, Leaf: a foldable structure that can be integrated into any DIRTT space, or used to create collapsible walls. This solution empowers people to make changes to their space within seconds, almost like a mobile version of DIRTT’s incredible architectureal solutions. But don’t just take our word: be sure to check out this video of Leaf in action to see the true value of this creative solution.
“Leaf allows us to look at the nature of change in an incredibly dynamic and sustainable fashion. DIRTT is fundamentally about building adaptive environments and Leaf is an extension of that. It’s for those people and environments that want nimble change in seconds. It’s a bizarre thing to be able to do, taking existing installations and allowing them to become foldable environments.”
– Geoff Gosling, Co-Founder and Product Development Vice President, DIRTT
This eye-catching LED glassboard, GLO by Clarus, was one of the highlights of NeoCon. Clarus has truly unlocked the potential of glass in ways that redefine its role in the workplace and that enhance employee engagement. This translucent glass board is rimmed with an internal LED light source that illuminates the writing board. Combined with Clarus’s vast manufacturing and customization capabilities, these boards can be made in any size and displayed in a range of applications from wall hanging to table tops to free-standing to mobile.
“The GLO glass board brought out the inner graffiti artist in every passerby. GLO beckoned for a closer look and in turn sent users away with a big cheek-to-cheek grin. I can definitely see GLO debuting in multiple market segments from corporate to pediatric healthcare to incubators to education, and it’s sure to take center stage.”
– Keli Burns, Senior A+D and Marketing Manager, Corporate Environments
There’s the noble initiative to zero out the carbon footprint, and then there’s Interface, who is actually drawing carbon out of the air to make raw flooring materials, creating a carbon negative impact by reversing the damage of climate change. The implications and necessity of their mission and work are beyond inspiring, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
“A product that is not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative is very encouraging. The idea that you can literally pull toxins out of the atmosphere and create a usable product is a game changer for the industry. We’re suddenly not just focusing on having little to no impact to the environment, but having a positive impact and that’s exciting to see!”
– Meredith Roman, Project Designer, Corporate Environments
BuzziSpace truly shines with their creative, innovative and downright fun product offerings, which always prove to be a beautiful marriage of form and function. By combining forces with 13&9, they’ve created a gorgeous offering that can stand alone or become a lighting fixture, all while adding BuzziSpace’s hallmark sound masking to the workplace. The BuzziPleat framework relies on tension of its own fabrication, rather than an internal support structure. Fashion has long adopted this method to create neat, yet flexible forms. Here, the application brings an organic quality to an otherwise synthetic material.
“Pleating brings movement to still objects, animating them from within. It can therefore be seen as the symbol of a major social shift towards a rebounding society giving movement and elasticity to structure.”
– Martin Lesiak, Lead Architect and Designer, 13&9
Want to enhance employee engagement? What better way to do it than with an interactive LED bench that responds to touch with a cascade of light, like a contained aurora borealis? Mobius is the result of a collaboration between 3Form and Brooklyn-based designer Louis Lim of Makingworks. This interactive circular bench combines an array of technologies to create a piece of furniture that is not only beautiful and functional in form, but when in display, transforms into a marvel.
“Ultimately, I aim to evoke a feeling of joy and passion through Mobius. Benches are historically public and transient. They are objects people pass by and pause to rest or to contemplate and perhaps converse with a stranger. By suggesting certain seating arrangements for people, they are forced to interact with each other in new ways, namely in a playful and whimsical way in an otherwise benign situation.”
– Louis Lim, Makingworks
As a commercial furniture dealership, NeoCon is especially important to Corporate Environments because it invigorates us and features so many of our manufacturer partners’ product offerings. It’s an event we eagerly anticipate every year because it showcases the lifeblood of our industry: exquisite design and product excellence. Make sure to check out this listing of the Contract Magazine awards results. Congratulations, winners!