From standout products to emerging trends, NeoCon 2017 was a celebration of design found in and around commercial interiors. Packed to the gills, we saw and felt a marked increase in attendance over 2016 – the show produced an energy that has been missing from this annual gathering for several years.
NeoCon 2017 remains an important show for Stoner Bunting and our clients. Armstrong Flooring, CARVART, INSTALL and Wood-Mode all took part in the festivities, hosting product demonstrations, cocktail hours, giveaways, CEUs and more in their respective spaces.
Trends from the Trade Show Floor
While exploring the Merchandise Mart, our team was drawn to vibrant colors (chartreuse and magenta were everywhere), sit/stand solutions, automation, ergonomic furniture, high-performance textiles and calm, zen-like spaces. We also noticed a renewed focus on experimentation and innovation. While grey felt and acoustic solutions dominated the seventh floor, there seemed to be a renewed vitality and dynamism at NeoCon that has raised the stakes and created a more competitive atmosphere among manufacturers.
Despite crisp colors and bold design choices, the show ultimately boiled down to brands and solutions that create healthier, happier and more ergonomically friendly workplaces. There was also an emphasis placed on celebrating design legacy and brand history. Knoll Textiles, for example, showcased a curated collection of the company’s designs that dated back to its genesis.
Armstrong Flooring Doubles Down on NeoCon
On the 7th floor, longtime client Armstrong Flooring returned to NeoCon for a second year in a row to showcase its continued commitment as a design-focused and reliable source for commercial designers and interior architects.
The brand’s booth featured long-lasting, cutting edge, low-maintenance floors that coordinated across categories and collections. Together, the products provide flooring solutions that cover a spectrum of vertical markets including corporate, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, public spaces and government.
In addition to a wide variety of products, including LVT, Homogenous Sheet, Hardwood, Bio-Based Tile and VCT, product specialists conducted scratch and wear testing and other product demonstrations. The Armstrong Flooring virtual reality simulator was also on hand, which allowed designers to “explore” a variety of commercial environments and select flooring from the brand’s product portfolio.
CARVART Debuts New Chicago Studio
NeoCon 2017 was a historic show for client CARVART. The architectural and contract glass manufacturer officially launched its first Chicago Studio at the Merchandise Mart after securing a lease on the last remaining permanent showroom on the 11th floor. The new Studio opened on the eve of the show and represents the brand’s dedication to one of America’s leading design cities. It also cements CARVART’s place as a leader in glass products for commercial interior design.
As the new studio opened its doors, CARVART leadership and Stoner Bunting’s team were busy accepting a quartet of industry honors:
- CARVART by Soema commercial bath interiors collection won Contract Magazine’s Best of NeoCon Silver Award in the architectural products category.
- glassCUBE won a #METROPOLISlikes Award in the materials category and was also a finalist for the Interior Design HiP Awards and Buildings Magazine’s Product Innovations 2017 Awards.
Another highlight for CARVART and show attendees was the brand’s collaboration with lighting designer Stephen Pikus, which was orchestrated by Stoner Bunting as a way to create memorable takeaways for studio guests. Known for his use of recycled, repurposed and renewable materials like sea glass, he provided CARVART with 500 pieces of “found” glass in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors for the show. Attendees were invited to make necklaces with the recycled glass pieces, which served as a unique keepsake with an important, socially driven backstory.
INSTALL Partners with Industry Manufacturer for Live Product Demonstrations
Client INSTALL and floorcovering manufacturer Roppe partnered throughout NeoCon 2017 to demonstrate how flooring installation impacts form, function and design integrity. Together the pair emphasized the value of certified installation through live, daily flooring demonstrations on the 7th floor at the Interiors + Sources Materials Pavilion.
With INSTALL’s floorcovering expertise, a fashion-forward design was brought to life on an 8’ x10’ space. The work was completed by INSTALL certified installers working with innovative Roppe products including Envire™ Rubber Sheet & Tile, Contours Profiled Wall Based System™ and FlashCove™ Prefabricated Base.
After the installation was complete, media interviews secured by Stoner Bunting were conducted on the stage.
Wood-Mode Hosts CEU, Partners with Interior Design for Special Prize
Despite being a heavy player in the residential market, client Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry attracted crossover designers to its LuxeHome Showroom on the first floor of The Mart. One of the primary drivers was a CEU course that highlighted the increased focus placed on cabinetry-centric lighting solutions for renovated kitchens and baths.
The course titled, “Lighting the Way: A Seamless Approach to Integrated Lighting in Cabinetry Design,” focused on LED lighting and the rapidly developing market for this increasingly common technology. The new course was registered with AIA/CES for one Learning Unit (LU), 1.0 IDCEC Continuing Education Unit (CEU) and 0.1 NKBA credit.
In support of the CEU, Wood-Mode partnered with Interior Design Magazine to test designers’ lighting knowledge through a fun and interactive online quiz. The winner of “What’s Your Kitchen Lighting IQ?” received a credit towards her next Wood-Mode cabinetry order with a free integrated lighting package, as well as an all-expenses paid trip to NeoCon including hotel, airfare and $1,000 spending cash.
Nancy Callahan, a residential and commercial designer from the San Francisco Bay Area took home the top prize, and enjoyed a trip to Chicago with her husband by her side.