NeoCon 2021: 5 Takeaways

  • Categories:

    Creative, Industry Trends

  • Date:

    November 2, 2021

NeoCon 2021: 5 Takeaways

Creative Industry Trends

Last month, I had the privilege of attending NeoCon 2021. Since 1969, NeoCon has been one of the commercial design industry’s most important events. Billed as a launch pad for innovation, it’s an incredible experience for anyone interested in ideas with the potential to shape the built environment.

The 2021 edition featured products from about 400 exhibitors and emerging companies in the commercial design industry including workplace, retail, hospitality and more.

As a creative professional stepping into my first NeoCon experience, I was impressed with the high-design solutions that optimized user experience with thoughtful details and beautiful aesthetics. This year’s event boasted a seamless collection of jaw-dropping booths, awe-inspiring spaces and artful design techniques displayed by powerhouses in our design community.

My universal takeaway from the show? Brands are putting the user experience first.

1. Collaborative Work Spaces

Brands that exhibited at NeoCon are clearly influenced by connection, creating distinct, approachable spaces that invite the user in from the start. This year, OFS, a family-owned furniture manufacturer, showed they’re committed to doing just that. With versatile product vignettes including a podcast loft, educational spaces, medical offices and living spaces, the company illustrated a heightened focus on bringing the comforts of home to the workplace, where both collaboration and privacy can be achieved in a singular environment.

2. Biophilic Design

Biophilic design still reigns: Nods to the concept added a touch of nature and greenery to nearly every inch of NeoCon’s show space. While the nature-inspired movement is certainly not new in interior design, today, as offices embrace bringing the outdoors in, we’re seeing it done differently. From moss and succulent walls to planter desk combos and plant-framed screens, biophilic integration has achieved new, more artistic heights in 2021.

3. Integrated Power

If the past decade has taught us anything, it’s that people are attached to technology. And now, the design industry is finding more convenient, creative and innovative ways to incorporate it. One way manufacturers have achieved this is through discrete USB charging ports, which allow users to charge their smart devices from the comfort of their own space. Well-designed charging towers that don’t detract from the room’s decor are also making more frequent appearances. Farewell, overcrowded and mangled extension cords.

Today, smart furniture is the furniture industry’s answer to elevating the user experience.

4. Multisensory Experience

Engaging all the senses is one secret to creating a well-designed space. In their new, redesigned showroom, Hightower packed a powerful punch, from wall to ceiling. The company collaborated with Portland-based designer Casey Keasler to execute the transformation. With nearly 60 products on display, the space included a seamless juxtaposition of geometric graphic wallpaper, contrasting warm earthy tones with deep shades of velvet and texture play. Complementing the visual interest with rosé served in beautifully branded cans and soft music, the showroom illustrated the importance of drawing the user in at every angle.

5. Customizable Design

The bottom line: Design is all about the user. And brands that make adding personalized touches accessible empower self-expression through their customizable designs. At NeoCon, Moen showcased their Via bathroom faucet, with a fused matte black base and chrome top that come together in a seamless piece of art. Meanwhile, interchangeable handle styles and finishes invite the homeowners to participate in the finished design.

Virtually every NeoCon exhibitor pushed design boundaries in their own way, reimagining the capabilities of their products and how commercial spaces are designed and used. This continuing evolution will be one to watch in 2022.

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