This year's commercial design offerings at NeoCon are inspiring.
New brands, innovative designs, and thousands upon thousands of exhibitors, buyers, and designers filled Chicago’s historic Merchandise Mart building for the 50th NeoCon this June. Since its beginning in 1969, NeoCon has grown into a massive annual show and international design event, drawing in more than 50,000 creatives to show off their latest products or shop for new office furniture and more.
These are some of our favorites this year, found among the many clever flooring solutions, workplace furniture designs, and even commercial children’s furniture options at NeoCon.
1. Framery 0
Let’s face it. There are a lot of “privacy pods” out there these days. In fact, I lost count of how many I saw at this year’s NeoCon. One, though, stood out to me—Framery 0. Its sleek design and vibrant colors (everything from ‘50s blue to piglet pink) combined with superior sound control and features like LED lighting and an automatic electric air circulation system that knows when you’re inside made it easily my favorite. Inside you’ll find an adjustable stool and a sense of comfort that should make that early morning conference call a little more pleasant.
These circuit board–inspired modular carpet tiles marry the worlds of high-tech and high-touch. Designed by Interface product designer David Oakey, the collection pulls inspiration from glitch graphics and simple textures, with a combination of grays and pops of bright color. The tiles themselves appear seamless, and the design possibilities are endless.
“Our product designs stimulate creativity and inspiration in everyday spaces, while taking positive steps toward a healthier planet,” says Lisa King, vice president of product innovation and insights. “Visual Code and Drawn Lines (the new LVT, or luxury vinyl tile, line) reconnect people through biophilic attributes and recall influence of the maker movement in hand-crafted design details. Both collections effortlessly enhance any space though the products’ modular capabilities and complementary designs that effortlessly deliver uncomplicated, cutting-edge flooring to meet a variety of customer needs.”
A conical shape, a bright color, and everything you need at your fingertips—Oblivion provides the work space many of us have been searching for with a sense of lightness and comfort. Oblivion comes in various configurations, whether you need a personal space or a communal work area with workstations along one wall and shelving on the other.
The vertical posts and brackets that are holding the horizontal surfaces all point to the structure’s center, supporting the horizontal ones and vice versa so you don’t need leg supports for any of the shelves, desktops, and so forth. This design lends a greater sense of freedom and visual lightness to the overall product. You can also choose from a variety of materials, whether you want fabric, lacquer, laminate, or veneer.
It’s no secret that playtime is a big part of development for toddlers. Gressco’s sensory and activity-centric toys encourage thoughtful play with units that may be wall mounted or rail-mounted, so you can swap products in and out easily. These colorful units made of birch wood provide many sensory experiences for the little ones, encouraging them to explore what they see, touch, and hear.
Gressco is also committed to sustainability, and it has the certifications to back it up. The company is based in Wisconsin and is the exclusive distributor for HABA commercial furniture for the U.S and Canada, and HABA was the first toy and furniture manufacturer in Germany to undergo an environmental audit.
Aspecta, Metroflor's commercial LVT line, revealed its new Aspecta Ten Tilt & Tones Collection at NeoCon. This design pairs four new geometrically and biophilically inspired “Tilt” tiles with neutral “Tones” tile so designers can mix and match for the look they want. “Tilt was inspired by hard-edged angles and lines—geometric shapes created in shadows that the sun casts on outdoor surfaces such as rocks, deserts, beaches, and meadows—as well as reflecting defined patterns of repetition and scale found in nature,” says Robert Langstaff, director of design for Aspecta.
The range reflects Aspecta’s immersion in biophilic design. Aspecta celebrates the biophilic pattern of the fractal, or the natural geometries of repetition and scale in nature. Patterns that evoke fractal scaling naturally stimulate our visual and tactile interest and have been well documented to support both physical and psychological human health and wellbeing, according to Dr. Matthew Baral, a physician, artist, and lecturer who spoke during NeoCon. Baral asked a crowd at NeoCon recently to ponder why humans love looking at nature. “It’s because nature is full of fractals,” he says. “And subconsciously I think it’s because we are built fractally.”