neocon recap

2013 Neocon Review – The new trends in design

Merchandise Mart Chicago
Every year in early June Chicago is invaded, by interior designers, architects and industry professionals. When the streets and hotels fill up with designers you know it’s almost time for NeoCon. How can you spot the designers? Fancy or funky clothes and often three inch heels for hours of walking. I’m usually in that mix as well and look forward to it every year.


What is NeoCon? NeoCon is the annual design professional conference where all of the new design trends are revealed for the commercial interior design industry. You will find the latest color trends, furniture trends and product innovation.

This year was the 45th annual NeoCon at the Merchandise Mart. It boasted over 40,000 designers, architects and design professionals in attendance.

Pull Down Chairs

As I mentioned, I was in attendance this year. Since my degrees are in interior design and I am currently teaching it at a local design college staying up to date on the current design trends is important to me professionally. Last year I wasn’t able to make it, but it didn’t seem like a lot had changed in the two years between my visits.

Red Chairs

There were, however, a few stand out items that probably we will find implemented in your newer office designs as over the next few years. The first being a lower work surface. The desk surface is completely adjustable but at it’s maximum height is only two feet off the ground. The desk and chair come as a set so your chair is closer to the ground as well. This concept is to remove extra weight and pressure on your legs as you sit. However being as tall as I am, this system may not be the best option for everyone (I fear getting back up off the floor!)

The item I think that we will see used in several applications as we go are wall mounted and floor mounted systems by Sedia Systems. Their Auditorium Seating and JumpSeat systems fold up against the wall when not in use and only take up a few inches providing plenty of walking space when not in use. When you put the seat down a fully padded seat is revealed and can hold up to 600 lbs. This of those busy airports or schools these could be used in.


This year at NeoCon I noticed a trend of “private space” seating options. Or to put that in plain English, chairs that can be used to block sound out, and provide a private space when needed. While the concept is awesome and the chair designs are beautiful there are still a few issues in my opinion. When I sat in any of these chairs the outside sound was not blocked but muffled. Now I know the noise level at NeoCon is louder than your standard office environment but it was still quite loud in the chair. If you spoke while you were in these chairs everything you said was echoed back to you. Besides those relatively minor issues there was a bit of a feeling of insecurity in the chair. The walls wrap around the user and you cannot see as someone is approaching. While this may not be a problem in an office environment for me this was a major negative mark for these new chairs.

Interactive Work Spaces

That being said there were some fantastic innovations highlighted at NeoCon this year including interactive office systems, wall mounted touch screens, green technology and carpet made with collected nets to help sea life.

While there weren’t a ton of updates and changes in the design trends in the last couple of years it’s exciting to see where the design industry will go over the next few years.

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