June 14, 2013

NeoCon Wrap-up

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See the top takeaways from the show’s products, trends, people, news and more. . .

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From Jean-Marie Massaud’s crossover office collection for


—including a plush, clamlike lounger intended to create privacy in public settings—to Patricia Urquiola’s catchy prototypes for


and Jess Sorel’s Palamino collection for


, conceived with hospitality, health care, and office environs in mind, NeoCon 2013 was teaming with products that were not only functional, but a lot of fun to look at—and try out. Techological advances were, of course, at the forefront, among them Drape by Konstantin Grcic for


, made from embossed and 3-D printed vinyl. Who could forget Martin Keen’s perch-enabling Locus workstation for

Focal Upright Furniture

, which engenders a posture halfway between standing and sitting—or miss the buzz surrounding


‘s oversize acoustic light fixture, fashioned from the company’s proprietary PET waste-derived felt. See more products highlights






The excitement surrounding


‘s Bluescape, a digital workspace developed in collaboration with

Obscura Digital

, was part of a bigger conversation this year: how to design for our technology-driven work environments while maintaining a steadfast committment to, well, design. One of the trends derived from this tension was tabletlike work surfaces—attached to chairs, ottomans, and on sofa backs (more on that


). Another angle was materials innovation, like


‘s Net Effect carpet tile, inspired by its Net-Works fishing net reclamation program. Along with the Mart’s new LEED Gold certification (see


), the venue welcomed a host of new showroom spaces, including

Conant Architect

‘s space for

Momentum Group

, Standard Issue’s fresh redo for


, and

Cook Architectural Design Studio

‘s digs for

D.L. Couch

. And everyone noticed the showstopping bold colors—like, ahem, orange—that set the Mart on fire. Go


for more news.


Beloved Mel Byars likely witnessed his last NeoCon, as he announced his retirement from his longtime position as creative director of

MechoShade Systems

. We all did a double take when we spotted Dana Grizwin and Mac Stopa of

Massive Design

dressed from head to toe in matching patterns at more than one event. The industry lost one of its design legends during the show: Niels Diffrient, whose focus on ergonomics gave us the revolutionary Freedom Chair for


, passed away at the age of 85. Equally sad: Architect Graham Downes’ firm was revealed as slated to close at the end of the month due to his passing earlier this year. On a happier note, we were lucky to catch the amazing Tuesday keynote by Bjarke Ingels of

BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)

. You may have heard his term “CourtScraper”—the merging of a skyscraper and a courtyard at his NY project that just broke ground.




‘s Leah Ray gave a twirl at

Interior Design

‘s 11th annual Giants celebration, which filled two levels—and a chapel—of her firm’s stunning new Gratz Center at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on Sunday. It was a spicy night at the Believe Red Hot Ball,


‘s popular annual fundraiser held at the Radisson Blue Aqua Hotel Chicago. More hot times were had at COOL, the


‘s annual black-tie gala honoring their 40th Interior Design Competition (winners


) and 21st Annual Will Ching Competition to celebrate originality and excellence in commercial design from firms with five or fewer employees. KS McRorie Interior Design of Hilton Head Island was revealed as the 2013 winner for Casa San Agustin. On site at the Mart, cocktails and light fare were easy to find as we party hopped from


(did you see the color-changing dance floor?) to

Global Total Office

(with it’s costumed bartenders) to

D.L. Couch

and beyond. Go


for more events coverage.


In keeping with our hyper digitized present, social media had more of a presence this year than ever before. One of the biggest hits?


‘s #NeoConography photo contest generated

more than 700 submissions

(more than double last year’s count) across platforms. Countless tweets went to

Herman Miller

‘s quoting of Eames: “Charles Eames said the role of a designer is that of a good host anticipating the needs of the guest.” On Instragram, Herman Miller again saw virality with their “Living Office” installation of iconic furniture in the lobby of the Merchandise Mart. And, perhaps predictably, Haworth’s Bluescape lent itself to Vine, where we weren’t the only ones who recognized the video appeal of the interactive digital workspace. The manufacturing process behind the bio-based fibers of

DuPont™ Sorona®

also made the rounds on Twitter…see more




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