June saw LaBella’s Rochester interior design team travel to The Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL to attend NeoCon - an annual tradeshow showcasing the interior design industry’s newest ideas and products. Over 700 exhibitors featured products for a variety of sectors, from institutional to hospitality and residential.
Designers Jackie Ilg, CID and Danielle Lewis, Assoc. IIDA, ASID perused the halls of the Mart’s commercial showrooms to experience the latest trends in design theory and goods, including furniture, flooring, textiles and other building products. This year's trends were an increased blending of work and home environments, customization, and the enduring popularity of mid-century design. Trends in workplace and educational design signaled a further shift toward open, mixed-use spaces that foster collaboration through the use of comfortable break-out spaces, benching systems, and integrated technology. (See our article on open office design here).
Many large furniture manufacturers prominently featured shapes and forms seemingly inspired by a Mad Men set, bringing updated and playful colors to forms inspired by the vintage era. The vintage style presents a unique juxtaposition to the ever increasing technological capabilities in furniture. In one concept piece, furniture manufacturer Steelcase displayed a significant piece of tech in the design of a benching system that uses an integrated digital display to quickly show employee availability and desk reservation – a concept increasingly popular in coworking spaces.
Form follows function, of course, but aesthetic trends always play a role in developing interior spaces. Exhibitors across the board displayed a mix of grey hues with vibrant pops of purple, blue and green, abstracted patterns, and felted textures.
Once the largest commercial building in the world, the Merchandise Mart spans over 4 million square feet and for a time held its own zip code. Of all the vendors, Zintra's acoustical products stood out as one of Jackie's picks. “It’s a more innovative and playful way to increase sound absorption in a space without tossing up a dated 1980's version of acoustical carpet wrapped panels.”
“For me it’s hard to pick a favorite,” Danielle said. “There are so many exciting new products out there. I’m just looking forward to taking the ideas we saw at NeoCon and applying them to our current and future projects.”
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