NeoCon 50 | Trends from the 2018 Shows

The largest event of the year for the commercial design and architectural industry has wrapped and we can thankfully say goodbye to those overwhelming elevator lines until next June. Thousands of design professionals in markets ranging from Education, Government, Healthcare and Workplace, converged at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart last week to celebrate NeoCon’s 50th edition and explore innovative design trends. Following three days of extensive networking and a blur of beautiful products, we’re rounding up the top trends we anticipate will take center stage in the coming year.

2018 Trends

Biophilic Design  

From organic shapes to nature-inspired artwork, moss details to living walls, biophilic touches were seen around every corner of the NeoCon showrooms. Incorporating natural details within the workplace has been gaining popularity in recent years, as doing so has been proven to provide undeniable benefits to both employees and employers. The trend exploded at this year’s shows as Arcadia’s beautiful dragonfly wallpaper, Knoll’s scenic textile walls and BuzziSpace’s BuzziMood moss wall, which won an Interior Design HiP Award for best biophilic acoustic application, had us dreaming of the outdoors and planning our own office redecoration. The overabundance of biophilic design elements is proof that this trend isn’t going anywhere. Read more on biophilic design and its wealth of benefits on the CDI blog.

CDI reviews NeoCon 2018
Clockwise from top left: Knoll, Nucraft, Magnusson Group, Knoll Textiles, Arcadia Contract

Resimercial Furnishings

Comfortable, homelike furnishings were spread throughout showroom floors, making an even stronger appearance than in 2017. Everywhere we turned, a plush sofa and ottoman offered a relaxing embrace and a chance for us to rest our weary feet. The trend was so widespread, in fact, we began to overlook it until we found ourselves planning our afternoon showroom stops as we sank deep into relaxation on one of JSI’s Indie lounge chairs. Kimball, Allermuir, OFS and HBF, just to name a few, all offered resimercial pieces that could be easily incorporated into the workplace, transporting workers into the comfort of home and offering them the flexibility to choose where and how they work. Read more on the resimercial furniture trend on the CDI blog.

CDI reviews NeoCon 2018
Clockwise from top right: Kimball, OFS, HBF Contract, JSI, Allermuir

Vibrant Colors and Plush Fabrics

A dazzling array of colors and textures ignited our senses as we traversed across this year’s showrooms. While playful hues have certainly snuck into recent office furniture trends, the 2018 palette seemed bigger and brighter. Perky pinks, olive greens, robin’s egg blues and mustard yellows were woven into seating collections, divider panels and even draped across walls as pure decoration. Perhaps one of the hottest trends of 2018 lie in the offering of luxurious lounge pieces that were adorned with emerald, sapphire and other jewel-tone velvets. The Kimball showroom greeted attendees with an expansive moss-hued Villa sofa with accent pillows in soothing crème and lavender. HBF showcased deeply saturated velvet and metallic shades for a modern and moody experience. And throughout showrooms like that of Arcadia and Source International, show-goers were lined up to snap photos of the lush leather upholstery in warm tans and crisp whites.

CDI reviews NeoCon 2018
Clockwise from top right: JSI, Kimball, Source International, Kimball

Acoustic Solutions and Space Dividers

As open office designs continue to dominate in today’s workplace, the need for privacy solutions grows. Many manufacturers have addressed this need with innovative acoustic components and space dividers, including Kimball, HBF, BuzziSpace and JSI. HBF’s Kinzie took home the 2018 Interior Design HiP Award for best workplace partition and wall system. In addition to BuzziSpace’s previously mentioned HiP Award earned for their biophilic acoustic application, BuzziMood, the manufacturer also won an HiP Award for BuzziHat, an acoustical lighting solution. Kimball featured their Pairings Nook, a semi-private gathering space that offers an opportunity for individual or collaborative work in the open office environment. JSI’s free-standing dividers are easily incorporated throughout workplace lounges and third spaces for a heightened sense of privacy while away from the office or desk. While the open office trend continues to hold steadfast, investing in acoustical solutions and space dividers like these will provide employees with the flexibility and mobility they crave.

CDI reviews NeoCon 2018
Clockwise from top left: HBF, Kimball, JSI, BuzziSpace 


The maker movement is pushing full speed ahead as the appreciation for artisanal products and craftsmanship continues to thrive. While each makerspace is distinct and will vary in its design, they all provide a hands-on collaborative space for students and employees to create, learn, explore and share. We caught glimpses of the maker movement in the 2018 NeoCon showrooms as manufacturers set aside unique areas specifically for crafting. Kimball’s showroom gave attendees the opportunity to personalize their own souvenir dog tags, while Allermuir boasted its very own letterpress station. Kimball also celebrated the 2018 NeoCon shows with an ode to craftsmanship, collaborating with Minneapolis-based glass studio, Hennepin Made, and Brooklyn-based hand-dyed leather studio, Avo, to create unique accents for their showroom. Since the maker movement focuses on quality over quantity and celebrates authenticity,  manufacturers like Arcadia, OFS and HBF Contract showcased unique collaborative tables and stools that are perfect touchdown points for crafting, learning and other hands-on practices that can be tailored to meet any education or company goal.

CDI reviews NeoCon 2018
Clockwise from top left: OFS, Allermuir, Arcadia, Kimball 

Designing for Tomorrow

Another NeoCon has come and gone and we’re excited to see how these recent trends find their way into the future of commercial design. Living walls to acoustical dividers, work lounges to unique makerspaces, identify what works best for your space and harness the multitude of benefits they can bring. Contact the CDI team for guidance in creating your most productive, positive work environment in the year to come. See you in 2019, NeoCon!


Featured Image: Kimball Chicago Showroom 

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Corporate Design Interiors (CDI) is an industry-leading commercial furniture dealership whose award-winning product knowledge, thoughtful design coupled with strategic planning deliver functional and inspiring interiors designed to foster employee well-being, productivity and engagement. CDI’s relentless focus on delivering positive workplaces mirroring the culture and vision of companies while delivering a high value investment has earned CDI diverse clients including;  established Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits/public sector and energetic startups.

As a “Select” Kimball dealer, CDI’s excellence in sales, partnership, quality improvement, community involvement and overall business best practices earned it the 2017 Kimball Premier Partner Award.  CDI was selected among 52 other Kimball Select dealerships throughout the country for this industry-leading honor, earning additional praise for its company culture and enterprise practices.

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