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Design Trends Take Shape at NeoCon 2024

The 55th edition of NeoCon, the world’s leading platform and voice for commercial interior design, will be held June 10-12. An estimated 50,000 attendees will convene at THE MART in Chicago to experience firsthand the latest trends and innovations influencing the future of shared spaces.

From fostering deeper connections and prioritizing sustainability to learning from neuroscience, NeoCon exhibitors are pioneering what’s next in design with creative solutions for environments that are not only innovative and functional but also enriching and inclusive.

Below are just a few impactful themes shaping today’s workplaces, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities––alongside standout new products and solutions from NeoCon exhibitors that support these movements.

Community & Co-Creation
An office full of co-workers is a strong source of motivation and energy. In their regular investigation of the future of work, leading architecture and design firm Corgan conducted interviews and surveys with executives, managers, HR leaders, and hybrid knowledge workers, and found that 76% of survey participants either strongly or somewhat agree that they feel more motivated working in a group or seeing others around them being productive. David Euscher, Vice President and Interiors Studio Leader at Corgan and ASID Chair-Elect, remarks, “Physically gathering in a place to work toward common goals and a shared purpose is a powerful way for humans to connect and feel a sense of belonging.”

New introductions from NeoCon exhibitors like GRVT by Ghent (1094), Collaborative Spaces by Global Furniture Group (1035), Sonrisa Lounge Furniture by KI (​​1181), Atmus Mobile Desk by Clarus (10-102), Pavilion O by Kettal (377), and Panigiri by Extremis (355) all present mobile, flexible solutions that can transform collaborative environments at a moment’s notice. Boss Design’s (359) Mews, a modular workplace pod system, strikes the right balance between focus and collaboration with pods that can be specified for focused working, private, or open meetings. Spacestor’s (11-113) Portals Huddle allows designers to curate private collaboration spaces, allowing for endless workplace reconfiguration and even relocation. Haworth’s (312) aptly named Collaborate, a collection of adaptable accessories support meeting mobility and empower users to do their best work—no matter their workstyle.

Color & Emotions: Neuroaesthetics
NeoCon exhibitors are blending form and function using the principles of neuroaesthetics, a nascent field exploring how environmental elements like color, sound, and art impact individuals’ brains, emotions, and spatial experiences on a subconscious level. The notion that sights and sounds impact one’s mood is not novel, but neuroaesthetics takes things a step further, harnessing these elements to promote well-being, productivity and enrichment. “Neuroscience-informed design shows us that science can guide us to good choices,” comments Sally Augustin, PhD Fellow, American Psychological Association & Principal, Design With Science. Multiple studies have found that beautiful and functional design is at the root of people’s happiness in the workplace. The Immersive Biophilic Garden by Garden on the Wall® (7-3093) was born from this very human-centric desire, crafting indoor preserved gardens and moss walls that transcend the ordinary, elevating moods and stimulating minds. Egan Visual’s (10-151) Sculpt Walls also emphasize a heightened sensory experience featuring 3D textured parallel lines, combining art and acoustic properties. CECOCECO’s (7-4094) ArtMorph is a luminous wall panel that combines lighting and display technology with captivating textures and customizable solutions, designed to seamlessly blend into various environments.

Unexpected pops of color can also subconsciously stimulate positive distractions, serving as mental respites in stressful moments. Designtex’s (303) Joy Collection embodies this notion with eight woven and coated textile designs centered on stimulating the brain’s pleasure centers. The use of vibrant colors, engaging textures, and artful patterns bring a sense of clarity, connectedness, and delight, especially to healthcare environments. For Stylex’s (337) new color palette, the brand joined forces with acclaimed European designer and color expert Carole Baijings to create a scheme infused with bold contrast, unexpected pairings, and refined layering.

Inclusive Innovation
There is no such thing as a universal response to a space. Everyone has their own unique reaction to their environment due to many factors including, but not limited to age, wellness, race, sexuality, and overall personal experience. Research suggests that 15–20% of the world's population is neurodivergent, meaning their brains process information differently than what is considered “typical.” Accounting for neurodiversity and designing workplaces that cater to and celebrate difference has shifted from being a preference to an expectation. Designers are increasingly charged with creating wellness-inducing spaces and specifying products that are welcoming and beneficial to all. When designing with a human-centered lens, everything that engages the senses––from texture, sound, layout, and color, to the shape and function of the furniture––comes into play. Kay Sargent, Director of Workplace at HOK, notes, “When we design for neurodiversity, we create space that enables all individuals, neurotypicals included, to find suitable levels of privacy and concentration, connection and engagement.”

As occupants continue to prioritize mental and physical health, more thought must be put into how this translates in workplace environments, from interiors designed for all ages, to essential amenities like mother’s rooms, spaces for prayer and meditation, and physical wellness areas and solutions. No longer are emotional and physical needs considerations only to be addressed off-site and outside of working hours, workplaces are starting to see the benefits of a more holistic approach. ASID’s 2024 Trends Report notes a recent survey in which employees cited “noise and lack of privacy for focused work” among the major barriers to effective work. Designers are recognizing the need to provide both the opportunity for open collaboration at a variety of scales, as well as audio and visual privacy to minimize disruptions, thereby enhancing productivity and employee satisfaction.

This year at NeoCon, exhibitor solutions are igniting fresh discourse in the realm of inclusive innovation and human-centered design. The Silen Bridges Mobile, designed by award-winning Austrian Designer Kai Stania for Silen (10-155), is designed to be more of a “room uniter,” than a divider––meant to foster sustainable, healthy workspaces beyond desks and private offices through a simultaneously tranquil and collaborative seating solution. pba’s TOCCO Collection is the first door hardware collection specifically designed to address sensory sensitivity and to meet the tactile preference of all users––the grip is made of Aquafil’s (11-107) ECONYL® nylon. Oyster Wellness (7-9086) collaborated with renowned exercise physiologist Jesse Schwartzman to tackle the biggest worker's compensation injury among office workers––lower back pain––and the result is an ergonomic office chair that ensures natural spinal alignment and engaged lower back muscles.

Sustainability: A Non-Negotiable
With the built environment responsible for approximately 42% of annual global CO2 emissions, sustainable design practices have shifted from being a trend to an essential expectation. The use of eco-friendly, circular materials and solutions in the built environment is the norm and companies are opting for materials that have a lower environmental impact, such as recycled plastics, reclaimed wood, and biodegradable composites. Production transparency to consumers continues to be a significant demand and more forward-thinking firms and furniture brands alike are putting their sustainability credentials on display––demonstrating their commitments to environmental stewardship by reducing their carbon and physical footprints, decarbonizing their supply chain, and pursuing LEED, BREEAM, and other certifications and standards. On-site at NeoCon, Haworth’s DesignLab, a collective of designers tasked with researching new innovations, will focus on circular design, which emphasizes sustainability at each step of a product’s life cycle, from inception to recycling and reuse. Andreu World's (10-132) new Circular Design Challenge calls on industry professionals to join them in adopting greener practices such as ecodesign, zero waste management, carbon neutrality, adherence to industry certifications, and sustainable material selection.

Standout sustainable solutions from NeoCon exhibitors include Ultrafabrics’ (7-8098) Volar Bio with a 66% mix of recycled, rapidly renewable, and bio-based content. The 100% recycled plastic tabletop on Scandinavian Spaces’ (366) Best of NeoCon 2023 award-winning Tinnef is now available in even more rejuvenated colorways. Turf’s (1048) new nature-inspired Stone Textures emulates the dynamic veining and intricate details of natural stone. Davis Furniture’s (3-115) X50 collection by acclaimed Japanese eco-designer Taku Kumazawa combines comfort, functionality, and sustainability in a sleek, minimalistic design. The chair features polypropylene components made of 100% pre-consumer recycled content. Slalom’s (7-5094) Bloom underscores the importance of acoustic wellness while utilizing bio-based materials derived from natural origins like flowers and grass. C.F. Stinson’s (10-150) Sea Change is making waves with six, sustainable textiles crafted from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester containing SEAQUAL® MARINE PLASTIC. Nienkämper’s (365) Vox Tambour uses a sustainable alternative to traditional acoustic panels called Eelgrass, an eco-material offering excellent acoustic, thermal, and moisture-regulating properties.

Show registration is complimentary for all attendees. Register here. For showroom, exhibitor, and general NeoCon news, images, and real-time information, follow NeoCon on: Instagram (@NeoCon_Shows), LinkedIn (@NeoCon-Shows), and Facebook (@NeoConShows).

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