What’s Next is What’s Here – The Best Bits of NeoCon 2019

Held in the windy city of Chicago, NeoCon consistently blows a gale through the commercial design industry.

The multi-day exhibition is a launch pad for innovation, offering designers ideas that shape the offices and interiors of today, tomorrow and beyond. And this year’s event was no different.

As always, the location was the impressively gargantuan Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago.

When opened in 1930, this art deco masterpiece was the biggest building in the world. It’s so big it even had its very own zip code (or postal code, if we’re being explicitly British) up until 2008!

With nearly 400,000 m2 of floor space, nearly half a million design professionals and 500 leading exhibitors on show, it’s nigh on impossible to explore NeoCon and take in everything on show.

Luckily for those that couldn't fly around every stand, here’s our rundown of the best bits of NeoCon 2019.

Designtex's Ode to Bauhaus

bauhaus-blog2(image: design-milk.com)

If last year’s NeoCon brought a revolution in terms of design and thinking, this year’s event was all about the evolution of those ideas.

There was a greater emphasis on textures, colours and patterns this time around and one collection that stood out was Designtex’s collection of wallcoverings and textiles inspired by the hugely influential Bauhaus movement.

Founded in 1919, the Staatliches Bauhaus (commonly known simply as Bauhaus) was a German art school that operated in the inter-war years. It combined crafts and the fine arts, allowing its students to forge what would become a house style that married design and functionality in one distinctly modernist form.

Sampling work from Anni Albers and Gunta Stölzl, the collection was released to celebrate the design school’s centenary.

And given the timeless – and much loved – nature of the Bauhaus style and its influence over art, interior design, typography and architecture, we think this approach to textile design will inspire people for years to come.

Sixinch’s Gnarly Bridges the Generation Gap

Gnarly(image: workdesign.com)

When it comes to furniture, Scandinavian style is clearly here to stay.

The Scandinavian Spaces display area was reported to be ‘frantically crowded’ throughout NeoCon and fellow furniture giants Allsteel, Vitra and Okamura released new items with a distinct Nordic feel.

But for those looking for something a little different, Belgian company Sixinch displayed a funky yellow set up that made the most of its ‘Gnarly’ chair.

Bringing “a twist to the traditional wing-back chair”, Gnarly is a fantastic example of new-meets-old when it comes to design and the chairs on display, wrapped in an eye-popping cartoon graphic highlighted that contrast.

We can imagine this generational-spanning theme will be utilised in themed breakout spaces to act as a counterpoint to more formal work settings.

Skyline Design is Best in Glass

Oblique and Chevron(image: dezeen.com)

French design pair Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec worked with US manufacturer Skyline Design to create a series of glass panels emblazoned with a colourful geometric pattern.

The collection, entitled Oblique and Chevron, cleverly shows how colours alter tone with utilised in different and opposing patterns.

Utilising four translucent designs, the coloured glass panels mix lines and patterns that “provide contrast and reinforce light and transparency.”

Unveiled for the first time during NeoCon, the Skyline Design display featured a series of eight by 12-foot glass panels to form an immersive installation. It impressed everyone, including the judges of the prestigious Best of NeoCon Competition in which it topped the Architectural & Decorative Glass category.

Teknion’s Building Blocks

Bene Box(image: bene.com)

The soon-to-be-released Bene Box system from Teknion (already available in some markets as Pixel) is a creator’s dream. Remember the fun you had with Lego as a child (or indeed an adult)? Now imagine what you could create with a supped-up cinderblock version designed to be used to fashion seating, storage and tables.

This modular system fits together perfectly, is easy to build up and break down, and can incorporate storage spaces and other accessories.  

And before you ask, yes we’d love to see who can make the tallest tower block with it…

Darran’s Thinking Man

Thinking Man(image: workdesign.com)

Making your display stand out from the very jam-packed crowd is easier said than done. That said, the furniture manufacturer Darran managed to subtly do just that with its wire-mesh mannequin.

Ponderously posed on a stool, the mesh man added a serene and other-worldly focal point to the crisp white space, instinctively catching the eye of people passing by.