NeoCon, the world’s leading expo of commercial design, took
place last month, June 10 – 12, in Chicago. Three designers from r.o.i Design
attended this year, Mary Witte, Ryan Bright, and Megan Hoekzema. We travelled
down to the Windy City for a day to see what’s new in office design and take in
the overall trends.
After walking around NeoCon, it became apparent the colors that were changing in furniture and design. White and gray are old news!
Now there are shades of pink, emerald green, deep blue, and
a sea of taupes and tans. The shift in
the color trends are being used to promote a home-like feeling and give people
an environment that can foster creativity and comfort.
Notable was the Behr showroom, where they unveiled their
2020 Color Trends palette. According to Interiors+Sources,
Behr was showing a “balanced mix of grounding shades, energizing bright
color, deep accent hues and atmospheric pastels.”
Other trends we saw at NeoCon and referenced by Interior+Sources:
A palette called Worldhood, which is ideal for the hospitality industry, offering depth and brightness and deepen the warmth of the space. These colors are inspired by the natural rugged landscapes and rustic tones seen by exotic travels.
Another category is Restore which exemplifies serenity. These colors aim to provide restorative qualities and balance. Blues and greens create a soothing sanctuary and celebrate the outdoor environment.
The last category of colors is Atmospheric. These colors are subtle pastels and neutrals and are ideal for modern and traditional environments.
It’s definitely time to play with a different range of
colors. We are already seeing the shift in our projects.
Do you love the open office environment, but sometimes struggle
with the need for a quiet spot to get a project done, have a private
conversation, or just have a moment by yourself?
While trends in office space planning are moving towards no
walls and open spaces, the reality is that most people sometimes need an area
which is peaceful and private, where they aren’t interrupted.
The open office isn’t going away
because it has proven to be great for managing by overhearing, training the new
hire, and collaboration. It also helps the growing company be flexible as they
need to add or move employees without calling a contractor and building more
So, how are offices balancing the need to be together but
“apart”? Our annual trip to NeoCon proved that manufactures are paying
attention to their customers’ open office needs. We saw lots of creative ways
to get a moment of isolation, while still being “available”.
This year the drapery curtain showed up in several showrooms, turning the cubicle walls into a framework that allows for a curtain to be drawn for full separation, or just some. Herman Miller created a lounge in their open office using a giant red velvet curtain and globe lights. Groovy!
There were also a lot of “pods”,
little rooms that manufacturers are now offering as part of the line of
furniture. You buy this tiny room and place it within the open office and plug
it in for power and ventilation.
There were canopies, lids and cones
of all shapes and sizes that aim to keep your voice from traveling to the next.
There was one we called “the cone of silence” that you can pull down around a
So, don’t hate the open office, it doesn’t have to make you
frustrated. You just need to get creative with some relief spaces!
At r.o.i. Design, we like to stay on top of new products and current trends in the design world. One important way that we do this is by attending design shows to see these new products and trends firsthand. This spring, we attended two major design shows, International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City and NeoCon in Chicago. Read on to learn more about we saw and discovered.
ICFF, New York City
Thirty years ago this show started as an international furniture show, introducing new ideas and new materials for furniture. But today it is not limited to furniture. They describe themselves as North American’s platform for global design, showcasing the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next. ICFF NYC hosts more than 800 exhibitors from more than 40 countries in 11 categories from furniture to materials to kitchen and bath to fabricators.
r.o.i. Design spent a day at the show and came away with a couple of observations. LED lighting promotes creativity in all product design, but the decorative lighting designs were breathtaking. A couple of memorable showcases were Featherbeams decorative faux trusses and metalwork, Puff Buff Design, LED lights in vinyl bubbles that are shipped unassembled from Poland, and Knuckles and Other Good Joints, beautiful metal joinery that promotes custom table designs.
ICFF is part of Design Week in NYC and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum was part of the Design Week agenda. They were featuring two major exhibits, “Access+Ability” and “Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color”.
“Access+Ability” is an exposition of product designs that enable humans to freely engage with their environment. There has been a surge of design with and by people with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities. Fueled by advances in research, technology, and fabrication, this proliferation of functional, life-enhancing products is creating unprecedented access in homes, schools, workplaces, and the world at large. “Access+Ability” features over 70 innovative designs developed in the last decade.
The second exhibit, “Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color” explores the elusive, complex phenomenon of color perception and how it has captivated artists, designers, scientists, and sages. Featuring over 190 objects spanning antiquity to the present from the extraordinary collections of Smithsonian Libraries and Cooper Hewitt, the exhibition reveals how designers apply the theories of the world’s greatest color thinkers to bring order and excitement to the visual world.
NeoCon 2018, Chicago
We took a day trip to Chicago again this year to attend NeoCon. This year marked the 50th annual Neocon! While the six-plus hours on the road (round-trip) made for a long, hurried day, we still enjoyed the opportunity to see what is new in the world of commercial furnishings.
As usual, NeoCon was crowded with industry professionals on six floors of the Merchandise Mart. Some floors are occupied by the permanent showrooms of larger established manufacturers of furniture, textiles, carpet, and wallcovering. Other floors are full of booths represented by smaller groups and some newcomers. Large or small, many of these exhibitors have something unique, exciting, or just plain beautiful to introduce each year. This year was no exception, as we saw many items to whet our designer appetite.
Here are some of the trends and cool stuff we saw at NeoCon this year.
The styles and colors of the late-midcentury modern style are coming back in retro full-force. This style is super-chic right now in the commercial office industry. Of course, these styles are updated to today’s standards of technology, sustainability, and environmental quality.
Intricate and complex geometric patterns are trending. We saw a lot of these tessellations in fabrics, wall panels, and even light fixtures at this year’s NeoCon.
Adjustable Desks – This trend actually took off a few years ago, but it was interesting to see how almost everyone has adjustable height workstations now. There are some great designs out there. Heck, even r.o.i. Design created custom adjustable desks recently for one of our clients!
We noticed a lot of furniture now features natural wood paired up with powder-coated metals. When past trends in furniture were all wood or no wood at all, these new designs seem to strike a balance between the two.
Manufacturing giant Hutchinson Worldwide has one of their anti-vibration plants in Grand Rapids, MI and that location was selected to be the location for their North American Innovation Center, 616 Fab House. The facility includes a 100 year old factory that originally began as Corduroy Rubber. The historical nature of this plant was in part the reason it was selected as an innovation center as it showcases the historical presence of Hutchinson in the US.
Through a competitive process, r.o.i. Design was selected as the design team to plan the innovation center and over a year the plans developed to include 13,400 square feet of a renovated third floor space. In that space there are video conference rooms, executive conference rooms, training rooms, lounge space, exhibit space and hospitality. In addition to the innovation center space, a new entry tower and approach to the 616 Fab House was designed. Working with Architectural Concepts, Ken Watkins, r.o.i. Design provided complete design and construction documents.
r.o.i. Design’s goal in the design was to celebrate the structure, including the vintage wood beams and columns, the original brick and wood floors, in contrast with the clean, new modern additions of glass, steel and technology. LED lighting was added using fixtures that blend with the historical envelope, providing light and drama without adding unneeded decoration.
Steelcase’s MediaScape products were installed in the space, allowing for multi-faceted video conferencing between Hutchinson offices and their global customers.
The modern space was enhanced with reproductions of historic photos that tell the French and American story of Hutchinson and Corduroy Rubber.
r.o.i. Design is grateful for this opportunity and were very impressed with the focus and dedication of the Hutchinson team and look forward to their continued growth and contributions.
From January 20, 2016 mlive article: French auto and aerospace supplier opens North American innovation center… “The 616 Fab House, which formerly served as a storage area, was built in just under eight months with Pinnacle Construction serving as general contractor and R.O.I. Design handling architectural and design services. About 10,000 square feet of unused space on the third will allow for future expansion.”
The 616 Fab House is Hutchinson’s second innovation center, with the other being the 507 Fab House, located in Montargis, France, near Hutchinson’s Paris world headquarters, according to a company news release. That facility was built by the legendary Gustave Eiffel.
The innovation center, 616 Fab House is part of Hutchinson’s 30-acre campus, is dedicated to research, development and innovative thinking for all of Hutchinson’s divisions.
“It is our intent to use the 616 Fab House as a place to connect using our state-of-the-art video and audio conferencing systems to bring customers together with Hutchinson’s global capabilities,” said Hutchinson North America President and CEO Cedric Duclos. “Additionally, we aim to use this space to foster innovative thinking and brainstorming. Using our touch screen technology and a variety of meeting spaces, we provide a setting that inspires creative, problem-solving thinking that drives Hutchinson’s business forward.”
The Grand Valley University Foundation (GVUF) is the umbrella organization and recognition society for all who give to the University through annual giving, capital campaigns, special giving or planned giving. And while the steady growth of the University is apparent, the Shaping Our Future Campaign was a landmark.
At the annual Enrichment Dinner in 2011, the foundation announced that not only did it meet the stretch goal of $75 million for the Shaping Our Future campaign, it exceeded it. Thanks to more than 17,000 donors, the foundation raised $96.4 million.*
The challenge of creating a “donor wall” with 17,000 names to acknowledge all the givers developed into an opportunity. The goal was to acknowledge the donors but also inspire students and alumni in the story of philanthropy of Grand Valley State University.
The GVUF committee wanted to create an interactive display using touch screen technology and video to invite technologically-inclined students to engage with the exhibit. r.o.i Design, who also designed the L. William Seidman exhibit at the L. William Seidman School of Business, was asked to design and manage the execution of the donor exhibit.
The foundation developed all lists, all copy and compiled photos, giving r.o.i. Design the assignment to design and develop the graphics, the exhibit and hire the team who could complete the work. Along the way, it was determined that in addition to the Shaping Our Future donors, all donors in recent history should also have a way to be acknowledged in the touch screen experience.
The exhibit was installed at the Student Services Center in Allendale in July 2016. We acknowledge the efforts and contributions of CK Productions for compiling the video, Underbite Games for the touch screen app, Superior Wood Products for the exhibit casework and Custer Tech for the AV equipment.
* The results of the Shaping Our Future campaign, Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons and the L. William Seidman Center, were both dedicated with much celebration by the Grand Valley community and the foundation in the Fall of 2013.
In 2012, a friend of r.o.i. Design, Tim Chester, introduced us to the Grand Valley State University’s development office project- the Bill Seidman Timeline.
Bill Seidman on the Cover of the “National Journal” 1990
GVSU has had a busy year, with the opening the new library (Mary Idema Pew Learning Commons) on the Allendale campus, and the L. William Seidman Center (School of Business) in downtown Grand Rapids.
As part of the L. William Seidman Center’s presentation, a prominent 20 feet section of wall space in the lounge was dedicated to honor the life and achievements of Bill Seidman. While GVSU has thousands of curated works of art, a complete in-house marketing department, expert public relations and communication experts, their experience in creating a museum quality exhibit was more limited than they were comfortable with for this important assignment.
Larry Hutchinson, center, Mary Witte, left, September 23, 2013
r.o.i. Design, Mary Witte, was hired to manage the process of hiring the designer, managing scope, budget and timeline. Through this process r.o.i. was very pleased to meet Larry Hutchinson, Hutchinson Studio, who designed the exhibit, (casework and graphics) and (along with r.o.i.) researched the content.
To support the process, r.o.i.’s Ryan Bright provided graphic design for the media presentation that Springthrough (local media and marketing company) compiled to create a multimedia touchscreen experience.
Visitors can learn more about the exhibit, scroll through a timeline of Bill’s life, and watch vide0s of Bill speaking.
Pioneer Construction, who built the L. William Seidman Center building, built the casegoods that house the exhibit. (more…)