What I Learned at My First NeoCon
Ask any commercial interior designer what the biggest industry event of the year is, and they’ll have the same answer – NeoCon. In its 51st year, NeoCon is considered the most important annual event for the commercial design industry that influences the trends and aesthetics of the built environment. This three-day extravaganza brings the world’s leading manufacturers, dealers, architects, and design professionals together at the historic – and massive – Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.
Fun fact: The Mart is so large it has its very own zip code.
This year marked my first time attending NeoCon. Although slightly overwhelming at first, due to the sheer size of The Mart and the staggering number of people, it was a phenomenal experience.
As far as interior design trends are concerned, I would summarize this year’s NeoCon showing in three words: color, pattern and comfort.
Across the board, we saw an expansion in color palettes for flooring, wall coverings, textiles, and furniture. Blush, or dare I say mauve, was among the most popular colors introduced into new collections. Usually, this color was paired with a darker green to contrast.
In furniture, we saw color introduced in several ways, but the most interesting and trendy method was colored wood. Manufacturers offered this wood in an array of hues, using an opaque stain that allowed the natural grain and texture of the wood to show through to make for stunning pieces.
New textiles are always exciting to see, and this year there was an abundance of large-scale, geometric patterns, and stripes and plaids made a comeback. Blush, mustard yellow, and hunter green were among the most prominent colors in the new styles. Heavy textures like raised and embossed processed were common in the textile showrooms. Privacy curtains were also given new life with fresh patterns and color palettes.
We also saw a distinct flooring trend incorporating abstract, artistic patterns (think paint splatters and brush strokes), as well as the geometrics we saw elsewhere. Color palettes included neutral on neutral with an emphasis on texture, solids offered in nearly every color of the rainbow, and neutrals with pops of bright colors.
There was also a lot of emphasis on ergonomics and comfort in furniture design. Even lounge furniture was slightly increased in scale to offer extra cushion and a stronger resemblance to residential furniture.
My favorite showroom hands-down was Hightower. Hightower specializes in the manufacturing of furniture, and their showroom emphasized comfort and high style. They exhibited fully furnished settings ranging from lounge, small meeting areas, café-style seating, private nooks, and bar seating, utilizing a mostly neutral and pastel color palette.
I think it’s safe to say our group of interior designers had a great time in the Merchandise Mart and can’t wait for NeoCon 2020!
If you are interested in seeing how we can implement some of these trends into your designs, reach out to us.