Neocon: Visual Perceptions



About a month ago I had the privilege to attend Neocon with a couple of the Pradere sisters.  After twelve years in the Interior Design industry it was incredible for me to be sponsored to attend such an iconic event.  Neocon is held at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, also known as TheMart every year in June.  It is the hottest annual event for all things in the Commercial Interior Design realm.

We started at the OFS showroom as they now have fabulous new South Florida representation!  We have been in an ongoing comparison exercise of sit/stand desks for one of our corporate clients looking at a variety of furniture manufacturers as possible options.   What set the OFS version apart from the others was the option of individual task lighting that attaches to each work surface and moves in tandem with the desk. This makes it one of our top choices for best standing desk that we’ve seen.

Meagan Johnson and Maria VanDeman provided us with remarkable hospitality paired with product knowledge during our walk-through.

The Nucraft showroom was a picture of industrial elegance. We had a lovely tour with Cheryl Schmidt of The Bierman Group.  I’ve always had a crush on their Kai conference tables with the polished stainless base and razor thin edge profile.

I absolutely loved  the executive sit/stand vignette, especially this one combining book-matched veneers with back-painted glass.

I had some free time to wander around a bit and explore for interior design ideas.  The topic of acoustic control was all the rave this year with interesting solutions available from almost every supplier.   3FormBuzzispaceConcertex and Carnegie were some of the many suppliers that offered stunning solutions.   I actually had the opportunity to experience some of these solutions myself which I’ll write about in a future blog.

As I wandered the corridors of the Mart I came across Teknion, a company that I had heard of but never specified on a project.  I loved the setup of their showroom and their very “resimmercial” inspired pieces for breaking out of meetings or to get away from an open (and often loud) work environment.  That term, “resimmercial” was all the rage this year at Neocon where commercial and residential are blending together to create workspaces that are much more inviting and homey feeling instead of stark and unfriendly. To see what’s trending on Pinterest for resimmercial, click here.

The second day started strong with an informative tour of the Kimball Office showroom.  Another furniture line that was new to me,  but I feel very well-versed in its offerings now!  I loved the flexibility of their desking systems and the design forward details that specific desks offered.  One of the back panels had bungee cords to hold collateral for the worker and another benching system showed off these beautiful wood side panels, much more pleasing to the eye than a huge panel of gray fabric.

The open staircase and café drenched in natural light made the Kimball showroom especially inviting.  As if the tour and eye candy weren’t enough, our experience culminated with having The Haiku Guys + Gals write a unique haiku for each of us.  I have a slight obsession with otters so here’s the one that was created with this in mind:

One of the most serendipitous encounters of Neocon was running into a fellow UF grad, Melissa Regan who is a Regional Director for Knoll, Inc.  in the western United States.  We hadn’t seen each other since we graduated and it was so wonderful to catch up on happenings both personal and professional while she walked me around their spectacular showroom.  Through Melissa, I even had the opportunity to meet one of the talented product designers for Knoll, Inc!

We at Jewel Toned Interiors are huge fans of Florence Knoll as she paved the way for women in the Architectural and Interior Design professions.  Here’s an image from the Knoll archives, the only woman among many men in one of the early meetings of her career. 

Florence turned 100 this year so the Knoll showroom had a huge gallery centrally located that displayed her past work as a special tribute to her many life accomplishments.  Check out this early ‘rendered’ floorplan where she actually cut out teeny, tiny pieces of materials and glued them to a Furniture Plan in order to communicate her finish selections.  This is the original Photoshop!

Although it was a whirlwind, this Neocon experience set the bar pretty high.  It was chock full of Interior Design inspiration and the continuing of conscious connections to other professionals within in our industry.

Til next year, Neocon…get ready for all the Gems to head to Chi-town!