July 9, 2018

WHA’s Carla Turk Summarizes Five Trends From NeoCon 2018

Guest post by WHA’s Carla Turk, Interior Designer

3 days, 5 floors and 1 cup of coffee. No, this is not The Amazing Race. This is NeoCon.

NeoCon is an exciting time for us Chicago designers as we weave through floors 3-11 at theMART. New product lines, revamped showroom designs and familiar faces drive me to see the show every year. There’s so much to learn from our friends at the showrooms, but with 5 full floors, 3 hours (including travel time), and 1 bar left on my phone, I took in as much as possible about this year’s design trends.

Here are my 5 takeaways from Neocon 2018:

1. To Seam Or Not To Seam? That Is The Question.

Carpet tiles have given us a plethora of options in shape, size, installation and several shades of grey. Now we have a new factor to play with: flooring transitions. Here’s an example from Shaw carpet tile called “Inside Shapes.” It offers a variety of shapes and colors to be used in different combinations or to create a demarcation of activity zones within your open office space. Mannington “Spin” offers continuous movement through its texture, pattern and color blends.


2. There’s No Place Like Home.

Imagine this: Sofas and lounge pieces in soft neutral blends, dotted with jewel toned upholstered pieces. Sofas are accessorized with soft broken-in pillows in colorful patterns and soft textures. This furniture setup is screened with peek-a-boo wood dividers to allow for light and visual boundary. We complete this look with a decorative pendant and table lamp fixtures, enveloped with a generous amount of plants. That’s right Toto, this is not Kansas anymore. This is the modern workplace.

ICF / Nienkamper

3. The Nature Effect.

Manufacturers continue to offer nature-inspired materials in response to trends, including biophilic design. Biophilia suggests that we’re naturally drawn to nature, which promotes overall well-being. As an example, materials that represent wood, like Virgina Tile’s “Convergence,” captures the look of an end grain wood and is cast in a polished glass mosaic. Other odes to nature included the Solar Study carpet collection from JJ Invision and Shaw’s new LVT that also looks like a wood end grain. As we all know, amenity spaces with outdoor features have grown too. Davis had new outdoor furnishings as part of their offerings at Neocon.

Virginia Tile

4. I Am Big And Need Big Walls To Fill.

Large scale patterns like undulating waves caught my attention at Knoll’s showroom, along with the larger-than-life lady bugs and flowers that adorned their walls. Carnegie had a nice large-scale wallcovering installed at their showroom that looks like a watercolor brushstroke. Large scale also pertains to pieces that encourage group activities like Halcon’s large adjustable height tables and Knoll’s communal bar height table.


5. I Am Small But Mighty.

There are fine details that got me excited during my tour, including the leather detail on Datesweiser’s conference table, pop up outlets at a round table from Geiger that almost disappear in the closed position, and corner transitions and thin frame details from Muraflex.