Neocon 2015 Product Trend Review

Neocon is the largest commercial interiors show in North America, held once a year in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.  Buzzing with excitement and attracting a global audience, it includes exhibitors such as Knoll, Vitra and Herman Miller. Hundreds of new products are launched here every year, making it a great place to note design trends important in the contract furniture industry.

Overall, 2 product trends stood out to me this year, the blurred line between work and life, and acoustic solutions.  Here is an overview of a few of the products that fit into those categories:


Plaid Fabrics


Collaborative and I-space products were given a homey feeling with wooly, lodgey plaids at Izzy and OFS Brands. 

Izzy used them to nice effect as a contrast to their modern, sleek furniture aesthetic. 

OFS Brands punctuated task chairs and lounge pieces alike with plucky plaids, inviting workers to stay awhile in the comfortable surroundings.

At Maharam, plaid was given a fresh look by blowing up the scale and using bright colors, turning the plaid into a completely new pattern.


Residential details on furniture


We have been experiencing the influx of residential design on contract furniture for years now, but with the new alliance of Inscape and home furniture retailer West Elm, it seems the two are more connected than ever.

“West Elm Workplace” consists of 4 collections (Modern, Mid-century, Industrial and Contemporary), each incorporating the signature details of their styles into work configurations that successfully evoke a work-home cross-pollination.

Mid-century modern style was also seen at Touhy, with angle-legged desks, and walnut and marble finishes. Brightly colored leather pulls with contrast stitching gave a handmade feel to storage pieces.

Arts and Crafts style was incorporated into the leg design on the “Traverse” conference table by Okamura and HOK.

OFS Brands showcased a variety of occasional tables, sofas, chaise lounges and picnic-like tables that made you feel at home whether you were in a waiting-room or a private office.  

Teknion, Haworth and others incorporated funky, modern bookcases that made spaces look more like a mod living room than an office.

Privacy Pods

With benching replacing cubicles at many companies, distractions are hard to ignore and workers need spaces to work where they won’t be disturbed. This year, many companies featured creative solutions to this problem.  

“Brody” from Steelcase creates a cocoon-like space that cuts down on visual distractions, in a state-of-the-art ergonomic setting.

As a more flexible alternative, Knolls’ “Pop Up” screens provide instantly adjustable space delineation, privacy and enclosure for primary and shared spaces.

Forget you’re working in an office with Haworths’ “Openest Collection”, lounge furnishings that create warm, inviting spaces to gather, share ideas, create a refuge for thoughtful work, or simply relax.


Acoustic Solutions

This trend is also about reducing distractions, but is focused specifically on sound absorbtion (see reasons above).

Three sound-absorbing introductions from Buzzispace bring a bit of wit to the office.  “BuzziCactus” can serve as a divider or a tackable surface.  “Donut” a wall or suspension element, is available flat or in three relief textures.  “BuzziFalls” hanging dividers come in 6 patterns, and are CNC-cut from sustainable BuzziFelt.

Six classic Knoll Textiles patterns are impressed onto a high performance ultra-thin acoustic substrate for the “Impressions Collection”, an acoustical tile that provides sound absorption within an interior space.

Introduced in 2014 but featured prominently in the Knoll showroom this year, ARO “Plank” is a wall system composed of modular inserts that assemble to create patterns in a continuous, acoustically absorptive wall. Plank features 63 colors of 100% wool FilzFelt®.

Inspired by the Eames plywood screen, “Loftwall” is made of molded foam framed by aluminum. A flexible screen with sound absorbing panels, it is available in an assortment of boldly colored fabrics and paint finishes.

What were your favorite design trends at Neocon this year?