NeoCon 51 | Trends from the 2019 Shows

The annual trade show for commercial interiors has wrapped and more than 50,000 design professionals have returned home, dizzy from circling the crowded floors of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. NeoCon celebrated its 51st year with an exhibition of the latest and greatest trends, innovation and inspiration from June 10-12. An overwhelming array of attendees trekked through floors 3, 7, 10 and 11 (and across Wells Street for the likes of Kimball, National and Trendway) to see what our industry’s leading manufacturers had to say about the future of commercial design. Here, we’re sharing a few of the biggest trends we spotted that will shape the workplace of tomorrow.

NeoCon 2019 Showroom Trends

Resimerical Furnishings

Homelike furnishings have spread like wildfire in the last several years, providing us with a respite from those grueling Mart stairs. Whether on display in front windows or nestled comfortably within showrooms, manufacturers welcomed attendees with soft seating, sofas and lounge pieces. Leisure furniture that was once reserved for bars, restaurants and hotels have become a hub for collaboration within the office walls, proving that relaxation and productive work can coexist. A number of manufacturers even incorporated pop-up amenity spaces throughout the Mart, complete with plush lounge pieces and small occasional tables, for a bit of R&R outside their permanent showrooms. You can read more about the resimercial trend and how you can bring homelike influences into your space on the blog.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends
Clockwise from Top Left: Source International, David Edward, Hightower

Natural Touches

Biophilic design continues to brighten our workspaces as studies prove nature-influenced design can reduce stress levels, positively influence mood and help increase both individual and organizational productivity. Merchandise Mart showrooms have reflected this trend in years past and continued to do so in 2019. Along with planters and living walls, natural textures and graphics were spotted on acoustic lighting and panels, wallpaper, space dividers and ancillary items. Even finish palettes mimicked mother nature and were used to evoke the senses. With undeniable psychological and physical benefits, this trend is surely here to stay. Read more about biophilic design and the best workplace plants on the blog.

Clockwise from Left: Magnuson Group, Global Furniture Group, BuzziSpace, Arcadia

Open Office Privacy

Open office concepts and coworking spaces have flourished within the last few years, highlighting the need for both acoustic and visual privacy. Many exhibitors showcased flexible solutions that addressed these needs, offering the ability to customize and define open commercial space for enhanced productivity. Personal storage lockers, mobile and stationary storage units, room dividers and acoustic space partitions were popular across showroom floors. Larger scale privacy components and architectural products were also introduced. OFS’ Obeya, which received Best of Competition and a Gold Award in the category of Architectural Products for Contract Magazine’s Best of NeoCon 2019, and LeanTo, which won Gold in Acoustic Privacy & Modular Solutions, tackle both noise and lack of privacy. Kimball’s Pairings Nook and Narrate, as well as Hightower’s newly introduced FourLikes, followed suit, offering individuals and groups an opportunity to escape noise and distractions without drastically modifying their landscape.

Clockwise from Top: OFS Brands, Kimball, Hightower 

Perhaps the most popular privacy solution at this year’s shows was modular soundproof booths. Used for meetings, phone calls, focus work or even naps, these booths create space within a space and can be easily integrated into any office environment. A majority of these privacy elements feature integrated technology, ergonomic seating, lighting and even circulation systems for ultimate comfort. You can read more about the open office and design solutions for improved privacy on the blog.

Collaborative Elements

As collaborative and coworking spaces become increasingly popular within commercial design, so too have the ancillary products that support the workers within them. Fluid elements such as mobile whiteboards, video screens, storage carts and charging stations were scattered throughout NeoCon’s 2019 showrooms, providing attendees with a first-hand look at how easily open space can be transformed into a collaborative hot spot. Explore some of today’s latest ancillary tools on the blog and learn how they can positively impact your team and their work.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends
Clockwise from Top Left: Arcadia, Kimball, OFS Brands

Health and Wellness

In order to attract and retain a talented workforce (especially our wellness-oriented Millennials), organizations understand that employee health must be considered. This includes healthier workspaces. Ergonomic chairs and desks are now an expectation, preventing slouching and discomfort caused by hours spent at a stationary desk. The prevalence of adjustable height desks was unmistakable at this year’s shows, incorporated into benching layouts and paired with the latest task chairs. Several manufacturers introduced dynamic seating solutions, such as sculptural barstools whose silhouette conforms to the body of its user and promotes healthy posture, to accommodate a variety of workspaces and workstyles. And while the push towards human-centric design is by no means new, manufacturers continue to showcase innovative new aesthetics and functionality for the modern workplace.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends
Clockwise from Top Left: Workrite Ergonomics, Humanscale, Kimball

Kimball Showroom 2019

A quick jaunt from the Mart, located just outside at 325 North Wells Street, Kimball’s showroom offered expansive views of the Chicago River and a peek into the most popular trends of NeoCon 2019. With a focus on relaxation, comfort and wellness, Kimball transformed their space into what they dubbed as Sophisticozy™. The showroom displayed focused, social and interactive spaces, along with activity based working areas that brought their newest and most popular product collections to life.

“Now more than ever, the lines are blurring between work and home. A comfortable ambiance and healthy environment in the office is expected. Evoking a forward-thinking approach to products and solutions, we are changing the nature of workplace activities by creating environments that provide comfort and foster well-being in a space that makes everyone feel welcome and at home.”

Wendy Murray, Director of Kimball Product and Brand

One of the newest product features within Kimball’s showroom, Debut, is a private office solution that supports the modern workplace with acoustic wall and privacy panels. Whittaker, a timeless lounge collection with an industrial aesthetic that oozes sophistication, greeted guests upon entering the space. And Work|Able, the manufacturer’s latest wall solution, maximizes space and boasts customization for users. Kimball Health showcased Aiden, a height adjustable clinician table, and Whittaker Health, which offers the same comfort and style while meeting today’s rigid function and cleanability requirements. The popular Wilder™ collection was also expanded to include a rocker, loveseat and ferrule options. Head to Kimball’s website to explore the Sophisticozy Chicago showroom in 3D and read more on their latest product introductions here.

New introductions and popular pieces from David Edward, a premier designer and manufacturer of contract furniture and the newest addition to the Kimball family, were also on display within Kimball’s showroom and within their personal Mart space. You can walk through David Edward’s space, which features the Stratus lounge and unique Frill tables, by following this link.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends
Kimball Chicago Showroom

You may be familiar with the phrase ‘designing for the senses,’ especially as commercial design becomes increasingly human-centric. Engaging our five senses is critical to how we take in and perform in the world. Both in the home and the workplace, sensory experiences can have a significant and continuing effect on our mood and well-being. While smell is often an afterthought when it comes to designing a workspace, thoughtful management could provide one of the biggest benefits when done properly. With a goal to help individuals feel their best and manage stress through acts of self-care, the Chicago showroom’s second-floor makerspace was devoted to customizing essential oil foot soaks. NeoCon attendees enjoyed creating their own custom scents that would help alleviate stress and relax their body (a welcomed treat after three days of networking and long elevator lines). Could engaging our sense of smell be the next big trend at next year’s shows? We’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, learn more about utilizing scents and promoting mental health awareness in the workplace in Kimball’s latest SPARK blog post.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends
Kimball’s Essential Oil Foot Soak Makerspace

Designing for Tomorrow’s Workplace

While we are familiar with many of aforementioned trends and design elements, partnering with a design firm or workplace strategist like Corporate Design Interiors will ensure organizations create a healthy and inspiring workplace that meets the needs of its employees. Follow the link below to contact a member of the CDI team for additional information on the products and concepts discussed here.

CDI Features NeoCon 51 Trends


Featured Image: Kimball Chicago Showroom

About CDI

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.

CDI Awarded 2017 Kimball-PremierPartnerView the video below to take a further look into Corporate Design Interior’s award-winning partnership with Kimball.

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