14 July, 2015 | Thought Leadership

Noteworthy at Neocon | Andie’s Top Five

For Helix’s interior designers, summer typically includes a quick trip to Chicago for the industry’s largest convention, Neocon. Held at the Merchandise Mart, the event is attended by 50,000 architecture and design professionals from around the world. Many of the large manufacturers we work with regularly have large showrooms, reinventing themselves each year for Neocon to show off their latest products. Each year we leave inspired by the latest products and trends. Here are a few favorite takeaways from this year….

1. Patricia Urquiola
Hands-down the most memorable part of Neocon 2015 (other than the torrential rain) was attending the keynote lecture of international star designer and architect, Patricia Urquiola. She is a passionate, charismatic, innovative force of nature. Her work is experiential; the objects and spaces she creates are sensitive to the emotional and mental needs of humans while being beautiful, playful, and immersive. She is prolific, designing dozens of new pieces with her various collaborators this year alone. And she deals great advice: “Only work with people you like” and “Get out of your comfort zone”, to name a few. Above all else, she is an exemplary role model for young women, working moms in particular. She has found a way to balance a brilliant career with a strong home life by building her design studio and residence in the same space. See photos HERE. Want more eye candy? Take a look at her book, Time to Make a Book, or the Haworth showroom she designed. I’m in love!

2. Wellness
Wellness is center-stage in the design world now. Similar to the growing prominence of sustainability over the past decade, designers, researchers, and health advocates alike are beginning to realize that the well-being of individuals, communities, businesses, and the environment are all inextricably linked. There are now design guidelines and data galore to support the value of investing in wellness. I attended a fire-in-the-seat-of-your-pants sort of presentation called Ethonomics: Design for Health & Well-being, that took a look at how our built environment (and design decisions) can affect cities and communities at the macro level, workplace culture and business vitality and the building level, down to the mental, emotional, and physical health of the individual at the micro level. Not only should our spaces be beautiful and functional, they should be restorative and supportive too! Check out these great resources for more information:

Teknion – The Rise of Ethonomics
The Well Building Standard
New York City Active Design Guidelines – promoting physical activity and health in design
The 1% – Strengthening Nonprofits through design

3.  Blurring lines between home & work
One of our favorite retail home furnishing brands, West Elm Workspace has launched a commercial line of office furniture in collaboration with Inscape.  It’s hard to say what sort of market impact this will have, but as the trend of blending workplace and home continues, this emerging development makes a lot of sense. The new line includes four collections: Mid-Century, Modern, Industrial, and Contemporary. The Contemporary collection is most similar to what most other office furniture companies offer; the Mid-Century and Modern collections offer the warmth of rich wood tones with stream-lined design; and the Industrial is the most original, taking the charm of an industrial 100-year old warehouse and translating it into plain sawn oak with steel frame.

4. Vitra’s Flexible workplace
Three times a day Vitra staff transformed the showroom in choreographed rhythm, literally, as they dance partied the furniture into various configurations to support education, work, and hospitality settings. On top of the energetic blast of beats pulsing through the space, they also had funky fresh usable furniture, a groovy analog adjustable height plywood workstation, and enough real live greens around every bend, making this fairly basic, windowless showroom electric with good vibes. Always an inspiration! See the beautiful showroom HERE.

5. Sophisticated palettes with a human touch
The most stunning showrooms (in my opinion of course) were simple, stately, and dramatic in their elegance. Davis and Coalesse embodied the restorative, calming traits of designing for wellness with warm wood, clean stone, nubby neutrals, and the dramatic impact of black and white with minimal color accents. In the past, it’s been white showrooms with colors that punch you in the face every time you turn a corner. This year, the design spoke for itself, was gentle and thoughtful, and created space in your brain for things other than stimulation overload.

 

Open PhotoChicago (pre-torrential rain)  |  home of Neocon Chicago (pre-torrential rain) | home of Neocon
Patricia Urquiola, Neocon 2015 Keynote Speaker Patricia Urquiola, Neocon 2015 Keynote Speaker
Open PhotoQuote from Quote from "Ethonomics: Design for Health & Well-being" presentation
West Elm Workspace - Industrial Collection West Elm Workspace - Industrial Collection
Vitra's showroom transformation performance crew Vitra's showroom transformation performance crew
Open PhotoDetail shot of the Detail shot of the "Tix" bench at the Davis showroom