Sep 11

by Christina Pratt

Held each June in Chicago, NeoCon has evolved into one of the most recognized and attended trade shows in the interior design industry. The show has remained focused on being at the forefront of changing commercial design and business trends. Trope Group was there this year and discovered all sorts of new trends, advances in business technology, and new ways to support the workplace.

As Charlie and I arrived at the Mart on June 12th we paused to take a few photos and looked back across the bridge. In that moment I was struck of the scale of the zany industry we work in. There were throngs of people hurriedly making their way toward the entrance of the Mart- a 4.2 million square foot 25 story building that occupies two city blocks. It was a great reminder that we are part of something big- design is an important force in innovating the way we work and an integral part of the greater business world.

Often the trends we see at NeoCon remind us of an earlier time- this year there was a late 70’s-early 80’s vibe. Pink, lavender, rose gold, henna, paprika, gold and brass – these lovely throwback colors are all the rage.

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In the realm of neutrals- black is back in a big way.

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Since the 2017 Pantone color of the year is “Greenery”, we were not surprised to see a lot of greens as well. The green continued into literal greenery- there were plants and plant walls everywhere. Note: currently there is NO such thing as too many succulents!

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In the area of textiles we saw interesting stitching details, quilted fabrics, wool felt on everything, plaid, large nubby textures, velvets and the return of suede. We also saw (and experienced) textiles with fiber technology designed to reduce noise reverberation. Products geared toward improving acoustics in the work environment were shown in applications for walls, ceilings, and open plan areas.

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Updated materials included gorgeous matte laminates that look like solid surface material and don’t show fingerprints (we tested them!). Back painted glass in bright colors and neutrals continue to have a presence along with new options (besides white) for writing surfaces. The industrial modern look combining wood, metal, stone and glass continues the “resimercial” trend, with many examples of blending the residential look and feel into quality commercial products.

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In the furniture arena there were a plethora of Height adjustable executive desks – hey, the boss needs to stand sometimes too! This idea has been awhile in getting to market and we’re glad to finally see some solutions for executives that don’t want a leggy table look in the C-suite.

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Smart furniture made strides, with a series of Renew Link Tables and Aeron Chairs equipped with Herman Miller’s new Live OS technology. A system of cloud-connected and sensor-enabled furnishings, Live OS lets people customize their workstations and supplies organizations with real-time data about how their spaces are actually used.

Open offices now have no shortage of options for spaces to meet up. We saw wrapped booths and conference pods for any type of group meeting, including integrated technology and counter height options. Herman Miller’s Prospect product won the Gold award for furniture collections for collaboration.

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Although we were very strategic about our time there- three days wasn’t enough to see everything. At the end of each day I came away with tired feet- but also feeling inspired and fortunate to work in an industry that is continually improving the work environment for all of us.

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