NeoCon Recap 2018

Yaeger Architecture on June 29, 2018

NeoCon celebrated its 50th year June 11th – 13th at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.  The exhibition covers nearly one million square feet of the Mart and attracts upwards of 50,000 design professionals from many markets including Workplace, Healthcare, Hospitality, Retail, Education, and Government.  Exhibitors represent products utilized in the built environment including furniture, fabrics, flooring, interior building products, interior finishes, and technology.  Attendees can choose from 100 seminars for continuing education and see new products that are coming to market.  Each year, trends emerge and two of our designers, Katie Gall, and Jessica Gonzales, attended the 2018 show and came back with more than 1,000 photos and all the highlights to share with our team.  Some of the predominate trends this year are Wellness, Acoustics, Biophilia, Residential influence in the workplace, and Color.


Height-adjustable worksurfaces have been trending for a while now, but it is clear that the trend is here to stay.  Research proves that “sitting is the new smoking” and the demand for height-adjustable solutions has led to new, creative desking systems.  We are also seeing health and wellness encouraged through design by companies including features that not only help get employees moving, but also promote mental wellness through calm, focused working spaces.

Speaking of mental and physical well-being, biophilia is gaining traction.  Studies also show that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature.  Bringing the outside in through design can help tremendously with mental and physical well-being and can even help with acoustics and indoor air quality.  Living walls were on display in many showrooms at NeoCon, as were potted plants including the insanely popular fiddle leaf fig.

As mentioned above, acoustics can be enhanced with living walls, but many other solutions were highlighted at NeoCon this year.  A plethora of sound-absorbing wall and ceiling products were featured and furniture is being designed to address the issue through the shape of the seating, and the upholstery.  In addition, sound booths were abundant and can be used in open-office workspaces as places where employees can take a phone call, have head-down work during times of focus.

Residential-Inspired Design in Commercial Applications:
This trend has been highlighted for the past several years and you may have heard the buzzword “resimercial”.  The term is polarizing, but it explains what it is – residential-inspired solutions made durable enough for commercial use.  This is another way to promote mental well-being by making employees feel more at home in the office with residential-feeling textures, aesthetics, and seating options for the user’s preferred postures.

Color, color, and more color!:

So many colors were on display at Neocon from the trendy pale pinks and blues, to bold monochromatic color schemes featuring red, yellow, and/or green (again, biophilia!).  We also noticed neon signs in many showrooms.

We are excited to bring refreshing ideas back from NeoCon and introduce them to our clients and staff, continuing to study the trends as they develop and evolve.