Report From NeoCon 2019

Once again, the team from Office Gallery was at the 51st annual NeoCon, which has been held every June at The Mart in Chicago since 1969, and which serves as the “commercial design industry’s launch pad for innovation – offering ideas and introductions that shape the built environment today and into the future.”  More than 500 leading companies presented thousands of new products and services in categories such as Furniture, Fabrics, Flooring, Interior Building Products, Interior Finishes, and Technology, and over 50,000 design professionals in the fields of Workplace, Healthcare, Hospitality, Retail, Education, Public Space and Government were there to share their ideas and insights.  Here are some of our observations from the three-day event:

  • Size and scale.  This hasn’t changed, but it bears emphasizing – the Chicago NeoCon is three times the size of Boston’s design showcase, and with a scale so massive, it’s a great opportunity to really get immersed in all kinds of new, innovative, and experimental designs!  Once again, it did not disappoint!
  • Price points.  Many of the furniture designs exhibited at NeoCon 2019 are fairly high end, with price tags to match.  But it’s still great to get close up to these ultra-expensive furniture pieces, and then see how these designs, fabrics, and materials trickle down.  One style in particular we’ve seen for a while at the higher end of the pricing spectrum are industrial tables, which feature a natural butcher-block-like table-top with a metal base.  This style, we’re happy to say, is now at a much more accessible price point!
  • Shapes and colors.  We noticed a distinct return to mid-century modern, with lots of colors coming back from the 1970s, including mint greens, pinks, oranges, and yellows, as well as a penchant for bright pastel colors like blush, teal, and purple replacing primary colors.  Along with that we saw shapes from the 1950s, including non-square shapes as well as amorphic and asymmetrical styles.  Lots of textures from that time period – including felt and terry cloth – are also growing in popularity once more.
  • A more natural look.  Complementary to the lighter colors we were seeing, natural materials and lighter woods (such as maple) demonstrated an attempt to bring the outdoors in, as did some new design features, such as benching systems with planters in between them, to add some plant life as part of the furniture.  These additions also seemed like a great way for people to achieve a more individual look to their specific furniture.
  • Phone booths.  We’ve seen these before, but these small private conversation areas that live within open spaces are really exploding, and taking on all kinds of new looks, including all-glass booths as well as spaces that replicate an updated version of an old London phone booth.  We took a turn in one of these spaces – not only was it not at all claustrophobic (booths tend to be made in two sizes, one big enough for two people, and one big enough for four), but despite the fact that we were in a larger room with literally thousands of people, when we sat inside the nook it was almost totally quiet!  This is a great addition to workplaces that depend on large open spaces or co-working areas.
  • Updates to the executive desk.  Executive desks with big walls, coordinated and acoustically functioning paneling, and more decorative accoutrements overall were definitely showcased in force.  Additionally, the popularity of the sit-to-stand base continues to grow, and more and more of these are built into executive desks.

If you’ve stopped by our showroom lately, you know that we’re in the midst of updating it, and plan to bring in some of these newer pieces into the store soon so that you can see the latest in office furniture design.  For your own glimpse of NeoCon 2019, plan to stop by Office Gallery in September!