Story at a glance:

  • Architects, designers, specifiers, and more visited NeoCon and Design Days in June.
  • Sustainable furniture, flooring, and lighting dominated both shows in Chicago.

From NeoCon at THE MART in downtown Chicago to Design Days in nearby Fulton Market, thousands took over the streets June 10 to 12 to see the latest in commercial design and more.

This year NeoCon celebrated its 55th edition showcasing top commercial interior design. Architects, designers, specifiers, facility managers, manufacturers, and end users from all over the world took to the many stairs and elevators at THE MART for floor after floor of discovery. More than 200 exhibitors were set up on the seventh floor alone, and this year’s launches focused heavily on tech, flexible furniture, and sustainable materials across offerings—from workplace and education to health care and hospitality.

On the programming side Gensler’s Global Entertainment Leader Bob Weis, former president of Walt Disney Imagineering, headlined Monday’s keynote presentation, sharing how designers can tell stories and make their own bit of magic. On Tuesday attendees enjoyed an inspiring conversation between British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist and designer Yinka Ilori, ASID CEO Khoi Vo, and IIDA CEO Cheryl Durst, as they explored how design can celebrate cultural identities and elevate the individual while unifying people as a whole.

From innovative acoustic solutions to seating made from waste, this year’s offerings inspired us at every turn. Here are some of this year’s highlights from NeoCon and Design Days 2024.

Stone Textures from Turf


The Stone Textures collection from Turf offers the look of stone but is lightweight with all of the acoustic benefits. Photo courtesy of Turf

Turf presented its newest launches, including the Stone Textures collection, in a beautiful lounge environment on the first floor of THE MART during NeoCon. Attendees stopped by to relax or enjoy the celebratory sounds coming from local DJs just outside the activation. It was effective, as visitors stepping inside the Turf setup could quickly hear the difference the acoustic products made.

The look of stone continues to be popular across surfaces, and with Turf you get the ambience without the echo, says Faraz Shah, who handles Turf’s marketing and communications and has a background in industrial design. Turf’s Stone Textures are among their newest line of nature-inspired patterns.

“We’re thinking about the end user and how to create something that’s visually and aesthetically very elevated, but now you’ve also made it acoustically very performative,” Shah says. “Most of our clients are people who are trying to put their stamp on a project. We’re trying to bring some personality and presence.”

To emulate the dynamic veining and intricate details of natural stone, Turf’s specialized technology creates a unique pattern for each texture; these are printed on Turf’s 9-millimeter 60% recycled PET felt with water-based, UV cured ink.

“It’s durable, it’s long-lasting, and it’s not going to degrade,” Shah says. “It’s not going to warp, and it’s not going to fade. This is the perfect use—where it gets to exist for a long time.”

Etched & Threaded from Interface


Etched & Threaded includes two bold, geometric styles that draw inspiration from natural stone formations and polished pebbles. Photo courtesy of Interface

Interface is all in on solving the climate crisis. It’s not lip service,” says Erin Jende, director of marketing at Interface. “We are asking, ‘How can we most quickly move the needle?’”

Interface achieved its goal of carbon neutral by 2019 with a small amount of offsets, Jende says. Now they want to get there without offsets. “We’re saying, ‘What if we didn’t pay for the offsets and we paid for innovations that helped us get further instead to reach carbon negative as a company? That’s our 2040 goal,” she says. “As of 2025 everything we were spending on offsets plus more we are putting into innovation.”

Etched & Threaded is among the latest sustainable solutions from the global flooring leader who has long been committed to all things environmentally friendly. Etched & Threaded features seven carpet tile styles available in 12 neutral colorways that take cues from the serene texture and geometric flow of natural stone.

The modular flooring tile collection is a nod to biophilic design that’s at home in all types of commercial spaces.

Etched & Threaded includes two bold, geometric styles that draw inspiration from natural stone formations and polished pebbles. Designers can choose from two timeless textured styles featuring large geometric patterns to create movement and pattern and three texture-heavy products in cable knit, tweed, and threaded patterns that are perfect for large-scale use in commercial settings.

TOCCO Collection by pba made with ECONYL 


The TOCCO Collection by pba is made with ECONYL regenerated nylon. Photo courtesy of Aquafil

The TOCCO Collection by pba is made with ECONYL regenerated nylon and won this year’s Best of NeoCon Gold in the Architectural Products category as well as the Innovation award.

This carefully designed hardware collection is the first of its kind to address sensory sensitivity. The TOCCO pulls and levers are available in a wide range of colors with smooth or textured handle grips to accommodate the tactile preference of all users.

The grip of the TOCCO Collection is made of ECONYL nylon—a soft material that holds the temperature of its environment, minimizing thermal stimulation. All TOCCO hardware is made with ECONYL nylon and stainless steel—constructed to be easily dismantled and recycled at end of life. The TOCCO collection is also ADA compliant, Declare Label Red List Free, and contributes to LEED credits for integrative process, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

“We are very proud to partner with innovative companies like pba to create architectural solutions that make life better for people and the planet,” says Maria Giovanna, chief communications officer for Aquafil, in a press release. “The design community has truly embraced ECONYL regenerated nylon to be part of their innovation strategy, and it is exciting to see these solutions come to market and be recognized by the industry.”

Pba worked with RainlightSTUDIO and Kay Sargent, a cognitive and sensory well-being design consultant, to create this collection. Sargent is a recognized expert on neurodiversity and workplace inclusion and the director of thought leadership in HOK’s Interiors group.

KI Wall from KI


KI Wall offers visual and acoustical privacy with ample opportunity for customization. Photo courtesy of KI

KI recently launched a new brand, KI Wall, for architectural walls and pods.

The leading contract furniture manufacturer celebrated the release of three new products—including three solid and glass wall systems, individual pods, and Super Structure, a post and beam system to create freestanding spaces in open environments. All solutions offer high-end hardware and fixtures as well as customizable finishes.

KI Wall products are designed for productivity, as they offer visual and acoustical privacy while providing designers with opportunity for endless customization.

The innovative design includes curved glass, inkjet printing, custom powder coat paint, and a myriad of finish options.

Kyanite Chair from Model No.


The Kyanite Chair and Jasper Side Table from Model No.’s Hedra Collection are seen alongside Model No. custom planters. Image courtesy of Model No.

Oakland, California–based manufacturer Model No. uses the latest technology to make its beautiful offerings for home or office—all made in the US using plant-based, regenerative, and recyclable materials.

“Everything we do, all of the materials we print with, are all a kind of bioresin. We don’t use any petroleum-based products,” says Phillip Raub, CEO of Model No. “We print with two different materials. One is a PLA, which is the most traditional usage of 3D printing. That’s primarily made from agricultural waste—beetroot, cassava, corn husks. The sugars are extracted from waste into a pellet-based material that we then extrude as part of the 3D printing process. What we’re really excited about, though, is we’re transitioning to cellulose acetate, a material that’s 93 to 94% biodegradable because it’s made from wood pulp and cotton.”

Model No. is committed to creating solutions for net zero spaces. Everything is made using plant-based resin, FSC-certified and salvaged hardwoods, with nontoxic finishes, sealants, and adhesives and organic nontoxic textiles, cushions, and fill. The Kyanite Chair, part of the Hedra Collection designed by US interior designer Joshua Smith, is just one example. From its hexagonal foundation to its gently curved backrests, each curve, angle, and facet is carefully considered to provide ergonomic support while embodying the elegance of crystal formations.

Normann Copenhagen Mat Chair from Allsteel


The Normann Copenhagen Mat Chair, designed by Danish design studio Foersom & Hiort-Lorenzen, is made of hemp and seaweed. It is the newest launch from Allsteel’s partner brand Normann Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Allsteel

The Normann Copenhagen Mat Chair is a comfortable, innovative seating solution made from hemp and eelgrass, a type of seaweed. I

“This has very little resin in it, and it can be broken down and recycled at the end of life,” says Lisa Brunie-McDermott, director of corporate social responsibility at HNI, which includes Allsteel.

Brunie-McDermott says the chair has low embodied carbon compared to a traditional chair because of the use of carbon-sequestering rapidly growing hemp and says it will only improve with a wood base option.

Utilizing the beneficial qualities naturally present in hemp, the Mat Chair’s shell is crafted mainly of hemp fibers bound by a binder made from PE and PP. The shells are mounted on a simple powder coated steel base, available in two colors. The Mat Chair is also available with full or front upholstery.

“The name Mat is a reference to the material innovation at the core to the design of this chair. It is a great example of incorporating innovation, minimizing environmental impacts, and integrating circularity and end of life considerations,” Brunie-McDermott says.

The Lisbon Chair from Room & Board for Business


The Lisbon Chair, seen at right, is at home in residential and commercial projects. Photo courtesy of Room & Board for Business

As more and more design teams look to outfit offices to make them feel more like home, manufacturers like Room & Board for Business are filling a need.

“We are definitely a good choice because we have the residential kind of cozy, modern look to our furniture,” says Jackie Schneider, manager at Room & Board for Business.

Room & Board for Business introduced four new products at the 2024 NeoCon—the Lisbon and Harmon chairs, the Mattix Outdoor Collection, and the Parsons Outdoor Kitchen Collection with True Refrigeration. The new launches are well-suited for evolving modern commercial spaces and hospitality settings alike.

The European-inspired Lisbon Chair, which officially launches in August, is comfortable and stylish, with a sleek, modern design that features a wide seat and back with supportive cushioning atop a study steel base.

Room & Board for Business became a Certified B Corporation early in 2024. B Corps are certified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. “We’re very committed to social and sustainable practices. We were a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, which I think is really a beautiful part of our story,” Schneider says.

Even more recently Room & Board announced the company’s transition to a 100% Employee Stock Ownership Plan, giving their 1,100 employees a financial stake in the company.