Scroll down to see photos from our visit.
NeoCon was held this year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago on October 4th – 6th. Normally the event is held during the second week of June but was postponed because of the pandemic. The 2020 NeoCon event was canceled altogether, but a virtual event was held online. This year, attendees needed to show proof of vaccination (or a negative COVID test), and masks needed to be worn in all indoor areas.
Attendance numbers were low and many of the showrooms were either closed or open only by reservation. This was due both to the pandemic and “off-season” of this year’s event. Hopefully, by next June, the show will return to normal.
While there were fewer attendees at the Mart, there was still plenty to see of the newest products from the commercial design industry. It’s always exciting to see the newest designs, innovations, and trends on display.
Some of the Trends We Saw
The future of the office wants to be “happy”, flexible and accommodating; there was a definite reference to the ’60s and ’70s in colors and textures and a sense of the eclectic was a welcome surprise.
- Much warmer colors and lots of soft colors. Pinks, corals, teals, yellows, and blues.
- Sherwin Williams introduced their color of the year projecting we were going to love Evergreen Fog.
- Benjamin Moore also introduces their Color of the Year 2022, October Mist.
Textures and Finishes
- Lighter woods, including the casual use of OSB and plywood.
- Felt was everywhere!
- Lots of interesting wall dividers, screens, and room dividers using all kinds of materials.
- Fabric folks were exploring retro patterns with lots of colors.
- Many mobile products were there as they try to accommodate changing work styles; carts, desks, even rooms.
- Many exhibitors have introduced small rooms that you can purchase, like a piece of furniture, to create spaces for employees to take private calls or have ZOOM meetings without bothering co-workers.
- To deal with the spread of sound in an open office environment, there were acoustical wall panels and dividers, acoustical pendant lights, acoustical décor, and more.
- Carpet manufacturers have gone all out to be “clean” and “green” with recycled products. They are also exploring patterns and colors giving us the hope of more than 10 shades of gray.
- The return of woven rattan (vinyl) in commercial seating is making a comeback.
- Technology and lighting impacted many designs. You can buy your conference table with built-in table lamps and ports for your phone and computer.
The Merchandise Mart had taken the time during the pandemic to update corridor finishes with new carpet, lighting, and wall accents. Most floors had their own particular look but in general, the lighting was greatly improved. This may have been in part because of the new exhibit space, Fulton Market, that is now competing for exhibitors and visitors. Herman Miller/Knoll has relocated their showroom to Fulton Market, a trendy location with an energetic urban vibe.
The world of design is alive at NeoCon and we were grateful to be a part of it.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge photos from our visit.