From June 13 to 15th, our design team attended Neocon 2022 in Chicago. Neocon is an annual commercial design convention serving as a catalyst for innovation, enabling well-established market leaders and emerging companies to display brand-new products and services. Businesses can also exchange ideas that will shape the present and future built environment. Read on to find out what our team thought about Neocon and the highlights and insights gained from attending this three-day conference in the American Midwest.
Design Trends at Neocon 2022
Neocon serves as a prominent global forum for the commercial design sector and serves as a catalyst for creativity. As a result, the trends presented here will undoubtedly affect the commercial design sector in the coming year. We noticed these following design trends at Neocon 2022 that are certain to have an impression.
- Mixture of curvature and straight lines incorporated together
- Muted Colors (dusty green, brick red, lots of charcoal, black)
- Organic shapes primarily through soft furnishings
Exciting New Products
As you walk around the nearly 1 million square feet (about the area of Chicago’s Millennium Park) of exhibition space, you will be introduced to thousands of new products and services from a wide range of categories. You will undoubtedly discover new products or solutions that will help you in developing a better workplace design. Here are our top product picks that we recently discovered.
Hollman Smart Lockers
We were surprised at how user-friendly Hollman lockers are. You can control The Smart Lockers via a company access badge or a smartphone. This lock and unlocking mechanism done through smartphones removes the hassle of managing lost keys, changing batteries, or forgetting PIN codes. Additionally, each locker can be configured to meet the requirements of each working zone in the building. Furthermore, with a variety of configurations and materials, they are fully customizable in terms of appearance.
Steelcase Flex Mobile Power
We have recently noticed a shift towards designing effortlessly rearrangeable spaces. Power packs, which can be placed anywhere in the room and supply power for up to 7 hours, were a new solution we discovered. Moreover, these battery-powered packs can power televisions, computers, laptops, and other devices. Furthermore, this new transportable power solution gives businesses more flexibility, dropping the need for core power to run throughout the entire office.
Best Showrooms at Neocon 2022
With so many booths and showrooms to explore, it is exciting to see how much effort companies put into creating a one-of-a-kind curated environment that highlights their products. Here are two showrooms that stood out and caught our attention:
Their showroom did an outstanding job of highlighting their acoustic products. The moment you walked in, you felt a wave of calm wash over you, and the room instantly became quieter. Each room supplied a unique experience that outlined their distinct features and showed how you can customize acoustics to meet your business needs better.
Their showroom was truly captivating. One section that stood out to us was the one devoted to the brand’s history. It had a unique concept and was not seen anywhere else. We gained a better understanding of Herman Miller and his influence on design. It was also interesting to see how the company evolved over time and how they managed to adapt to design changes. The room was elegantly decorated, with original ornate furniture pieces that stand in stark contrast with their current more minimalist pieces.
New products that have evolved for Hybrid Work
Since this is the first Neocon since the pandemic, we have begun to see how new remote and hybrid work modalities have effective office design. Among the products that have evolved to meet the demands of a hybrid workforce are phone booths/ working pods and lounge furniture. Office phone booths are free-standing pods that can be placed anywhere in your workplace to provide privacy. The brand Framery had a phone booth with a top LED indicator that flashed red when booked. These are excellent additions to your office space because they are an effective strategy to reduce noise from Zoom meetings in an open floor plan.
Another element we saw that has evolved from hybrid working is lounge furniture. Companies are trying to make the office environment more enjoyable and comfortable. By incorporating lounge furniture, you can simulate the feeling of being at home, resulting in a more enjoyable office experience that incentivizes people to come in.
Products we are Excited to Feature in our Designs
After seeing everything Neocon 2022 had to offer, these are the two products we are most eager to incorporate in our designs:
We are excited to use turf products for more than just acoustics but also in terms of design. There are several ways you can use turf products, and we are excited to use them to change ceilings to offer more than just a standard T-bar ceiling. By using turf ceiling panels, we can create a unique workspace that also has improved acoustics.
The wall systems from Teknion stood out because they are customizable and supply a wide range of panel options. For instance, you can replace glass panels with televisions or pinnable wall boards in specific locations. These wall systems enable designers to produce original and distinctive layouts that are easily adaptable to the situation at hand.
The best keynote speaker at Neocon 2022
In addition to showrooms and product displays, Neocon features keynote speakers who cover relevant design-related themes. The Aura Team had the opportunity to hear from several inspiring speakers who supplied in-depth discussions on design and how it can serve as a tool to adapt to changes, develop flexibility, and address complex problems. Bruce Mau is one speaker we particularly want to spotlight. Mau is an eminent contemporary Canadian graphic designer. Moreover, his keynote speech piqued our curiosity as he has a very methodical way of thinking about design. Throughout his presentation he always returned to the idea that empathy is the fundamental principle of design—”caring for the citizen, community, and nature.” Moreover, to design life-centered solutions, design should be approached more holistically by considering the whole context of an issue and the challenges.
Overall Highlights from Neocon 2022
The fiesta held at the Andreu World showroom was a notable highlight of Neocon 2022. A dancer who performed a typical Spanish dance was brought out a long with traditional Spanish cuisine and a cocktail bar.
Overall, Chicago was a perfect host city for Neocon. It is undoubtedly a Midwest mecca center of art and design. As we explored the city after the convention, we noticed how design affected all aspects of the community. Whether we went to a coffee shop or a restaurant, every place we visited had a design concept. Additionally, every location we entered had a distinct overall aesthetic and a specific design direction; this indicated that design was an essential factor in development rather than an afterthought.