Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the 51st annual NeoCon convention in Chicago. Here’s our roundup of some of the top trends from NeoCon 2019.
NeoCon is the largest commercial design industry showcase in North America. Furniture dealers, manufacturers, architects, and interior designers come together once a year to see the latest in design and innovation and tour the stunning showrooms of the major commercial furniture manufacturers.
Every year we attend the event to learn from other industry leaders, and see the creative design trends from industry leaders and see how they’ll influence office design.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the design trends from NeoCon 2019!
Mix-Matched Materials and Designs
Matching contrasting textures is very on trend in 2019. This visual juxtaposition was prevalent throughout the NeoCon 2019 showrooms. Whether it be matching a set of fluffy and chunky pillows with sleek tight-woven cushions, matching mixed textures was a common theme among the different showrooms.
Manufacturers like Geiger, whose pieces are traditionally wood-focused incorporated different materials to make their surfaces more varied and interesting. From natural stone to glass and laminates, their products generated a lot of buzz, and attendees lined up to feel the different surface options in their showroom.
On top of that, Geiger pushed the design envelope by creating pieces that have surprising edge profiles, showcasing the difference in textures. This look gives off a more casual vibe while still being thought-provoking in design.
One reason many manufacturers are heading into the mix-matched direction is its appeal to the Generation Y employees - also known as Millennials. This current trend of clashing textures, finishes, and colors first took the fashion industry by storm a couple of years ago. Many style-focused Millennials have adopted matching mixed materials into their style, transferring their desired aesthetic onto what they are looking for in furnishing options and work environments they consider desirable and forward thinking.
“[Our] intent with the mixed material trend is to make the workplace environment more attractive to millennial employees.”
Brian Fuller, Senior Product Designer for Geiger
Many of the Gen Y and Gen Z cohort have graduated from their post-secondary degrees and are heading into the workforce to begin their careers. With this in mind, the workforce climate is changing, and the workplace environment will be a direct reflection of the direction we’re heading into.
The traditional workspace environment is starting to fade out as office design is heading into a more residential feel. Most showrooms in NeoCon 2019 played with the concept of space and how they can best beat the feeling of confinement and create a more home-like and comfortable environment.
With the newest generation joining the workforce, their vision for the future of office space is veering away from feeling institutional and into a relaxed and inviting environment. We have seen in the past few years a greater awareness of mindfulness and a focus on creating social spaces in a work environment.
This includes breaking down the structure of cubicles, and opening up the space where you can see your colleague’s face. Plus, reinventing the common areas to encourage and foster the opportunity for creativity and collaboration. We’re heading into a time where collaboration is going to be a key aspect of our everyday work lives, and will drastically challenge the setup of the traditional workspace.
Environmental activism has sparked the minds in the commercial design industry. Numerous brands have been approaching their products from the angle of sustainability and focusing on minimal harm to the environment.
It’s no secret that manufacturing a product as well as running a building can use materials that could damage the environment, as well as use up large amounts of energy. As a response, many brands are participating in the Living Product Challenge, spearheaded by The International Living Future Institute.
One showroom that is a participant of the Living Product Challenge were Carnegie Fabrics.
A few years ago, Carnegie Fabrics created their award-winning Biobased Xorel that was of the same quality and performance as traditional Xorel. As a result, their efforts have left a positive handprint on the world, encouraging other brands to support a sustainable goal when designing a space. Seeing the different products in NeoCon 2019 affirm the prediction for a spike in demand for sustainable and eco-friendly pieces.
With overall space becoming exponentially more expensive, manufacturers have started to create product lines that allow the client to adapt their furniture.
One such product that was Steelcase Education’s new Verb Flip-Top Table.
This adaptable table has a flipping mechanism that allows it to be easily folded up to one side, opening up a larger space. The table also has the capability to store whiteboards and other hangable school supplies. This slim and sleek design is perfect for a classroom that may not have the space for traditional desks and chairs. Plus, it allows students to interact with the piece while creating an active learning space.
This is just one example, but we predict rearrangeable furniture will see increased demand in the coming year. More individuals, partners, and families have moved to living in stationary tiny homes or tiny homes on wheels. They will constantly battle for space, and adaptable furniture could be the ultimate solution.
Technology and Contract Furniture
As we continue to lean into the digital transformation, technology and our mobile devices will continue to have a huge affect on our daily lives. From how we work to how we live, we have and will continue to be shaped by technology.
The last and final trend that we’ll touch upon today is how technology affects the commercial design industry.
The KITS collaborator embraces the use of visualization technology for sales professionals to show off their proposals faster. With digital catalogs from over 60 manufacturers, furniture dealers can quickly craft their client’s vision by configuring furniture pieces and specifying fabrics and finishes. After curating their space, dealers can run a quick render and send the image to their clients as well as a quick sheet that includes product details and estimated pricing.
We also had the privilege of showcasing our Yulio platform to furniture dealers, architects, and interior designers. VR is a piece of disruptive technology that completely transforms the visualization process and helps your team to get to the sale quicker. With VR, rest assured that your client can see your exact vision without any risk of translation errors. Give your clients the opportunity to not only hear about your intentions with your design, but to actually experience it for themselves.
These mobile sales tools are revolutionary for furniture salespeople, as it allows you to tell your story far clearer than before. The KITS collaborator and Yulio are the next phase of visual storytelling, fostering a deeper client relationship than ever before.
NeoCon 2019 - A Step Into the Future
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at NeoCon 2019 and seeing the latest in innovation and design. It as impressive seeing everyone’s end products and having their efforts paying off. a success as every business pushed the bounds of creativity, making this event truly outstanding. We look forward to going back next year and seeing what NeoCon 2020 has in store for us.
Here at Yulio, we strive for excellence in performance and integrity when it comes to our product, and customer service. To try our program for yourself, sign up for our free 30-day trial (no strings attached). Or get in touch with us to schedule a training webinar for a full walkthrough of Yulio here.