As some of you may already know, this past week marked the 50th anniversary of NeoCon. For those of you who didn’t know, you could probably use a brief explanation as to what I am talking about, but no worries. This blog intends to do that exact thing! Our intern Paige and I decided to take a day trip to Chicago in order for her to experience NeoCon for the first time. In this blog post, Paige will talk about her impressions and thoughts about her NeoCon encounter.
What is NeoCon?
Starting in 1969, the largest commercial design trade show, aka NeoCon, has been held in Chicago every June. Throughout the decades of its operation, this exposition has utilized The Merchandise Mart to display design innovations and advancements to commercial designers from around the world. To learn more about NeoCon, visit the following webpage https://www.neocon.com/about/50-years-of-neocon.
First Exposure to NeoCon
Because Chicago is just a mere three hours away from the office, Gerard and I decided that we would fit a day trip into our work schedule. As a young designer, I had yet to visit the Merchandise Mart; however, I had learned about the importance of NeoCon in my classes. So, when a trip to the 2019 exposition was proposed in a team meeting, I knew that I was very interested in attending.
On Monday morning, bright and early, Gerard and I stopped at a coffee shop and hit the road. To be honest, after the drive my faith in having enough energy to take on NeoCon was slightly daunted, but I knew that it was important to my education and career to gain exposure to the newest innovations in commercial design. I believed that having the ability to see the designs in person truly would alter my understanding of how to use these furnishings and materials in spaces. After checking in, we headed to the top floor. That brings me to my first tip: always start at the top and work your way to the lower levels. It prevents you from waiting in the long elevator lines and/or climbing up the stairwells!
Southern Indiana Influence
Starting at the eleventh floor and going down, we worked our way through showrooms, such as OFS, Jasper Seating, and Kimball. As most of you do not know, I am from Dubois County (Ferdinand, IN, to be specific). Growing up in that area, I knew there were furniture companies all around me; however, I did not realize the influence they have on commercial design until I was learning about these manufacturers in my IU design classes. So, I felt it was important to visit each of the Dubois County grown companies’ showrooms in order to further my understanding of the influence that my county has on the design world! As we made our way through The Mart, we noticed reoccurring trends, ideas, and innovations, such as improvements for workplace environments, advancements in materials, and changes in trending colors. Oh, and I have one more NeoCon tip for you. I recommend you wear comfortable shoes. After making your way through eleven floors, the desire for you to want to look fashionable in your dress shoes may not be as important once you can’t feel your feet anymore.
One thing that stood out to me was the advances in workplace design. As workspaces evolve, the importance of making people feel comfortable, happy, and more productive persists. Today, there is increasing importance to create work areas that are able to fit the needs of individuals and that bring the home-like environment to work. To meet this desire, furniture companies are expanding their focus on advancements in modular furnishings, variations in types of workspaces (ranging from informal group meeting spaces to individual focus rooms), and introductions to “resi-mercial” products. All of these innovations create the ability for designers to create an adaptable, customizable workplace environment that increases comfort and productivity.
To wrap up, my experience at NeoCon 2019 was inspiring, educational, and overwhelming, but I can’t wait to receive another opportunity to go! If you are a designer and have never made it to NeoCon, I highly recommend going at least once! Again, I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and if you missed our previous blog posts head to our website www.lehnerdesigns.com. Have a great week!