10 Things We Loved at NeoCon 2014

Cool, creative designs at NeoCon 2014 bring a welcome reorganization to the workplace.

NeoCon, the sprawling furniture show that sets up shop within Chicago’s Merchandise Mart every June, can be its own world. The Art Deco behemoth appears to have its own ecosystem during the event, which is spread over five floors of furniture displays and trade booths. But during this trade show focused on commercial design, the space becomes a true reflection of our society’s views on work and the office; excitement over technology’s promise of productivity, changing opinions over exactly how to balance open space with private collaboration and a true fascination with stand-up desks. Dwell scoured the showrooms to pick ten favorite products and pieces that made a big impression during the show.

Pattern+ Glass Customization System by 3Form

Boasting a bright array of colorways and shapes, the 3Form Pattern+ system throws another brick through the wall of boring space dividers. Customizable colors and patterns can be picked out online, and some of the more striking options, such as gradient shading or patterns like kite (above), give this more than merely commercial applications. All are available in Varia Ecoresin and Infinite Glass. Another 3Form line, Full Circle, incorporates designs produced by artisans in Senegal and Nepal.

Photo by 3Form

Bonus: How to Shop for an Ergonomic Task Chair, from Dwell's June 2014 issue.

Vessel Pendant Lamp by 3M

One of a handful of Todd Bracher designs on the floor, the Vessel lamp offers a soft, subtle lighting solution that cuts back on glare via LED lights and quartz crystal. The slim profile and focused illumination make it an unobtrusive fit with a variety of tables and settings.

Blocks and Grids by Scholten and Bajings for Maharam

Dutch designers Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings drew inspiration from color blocking and ‘70s fashion for their new collaboration with the esteemed textile house Maharam, an exercise in layering and transparency that required experimentation at the TextielLab in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Eye-catching but not too busy, the grid patterns they’ve created (in detail above) can cover an entire sofa without repeating, play within a similar palette, but still produce striking results.

Photo by Maharam

Nestle Chair by Stylex Seating

“The working title for these chairs was platform,” said designer Brad Ascalon, whose new five-base modular seating system lets a mid-Century styled bucket seat fit any situation. “I wanted to make something with clean lines rooted in classicism that could fit any environment.”

Kinetic Desk by Stir

Already a tech darling, this adjustable height productivity tool could be called the quantified desk. It aims to make the phrase “tied to your desk” a good thing; with Fitbit connectivity, a smooth user interface and a “whisper breath system” that bumps the surface up to encourage more standing, it’s the high-tech solution to the health issues that come from sitting behind a screen all day. CEO and ex-Apple engineer JP Labrosse wanted to create something that invites people to move with subtle engagement and create products that “support people’s best work.” (For more flexible office solutions, read Dwell's June 2014 essay on the changing workplace.)

Photo by Stir

Kai Table by NuCraft

Michigan designer Joey Ruiter, a NeoCon regular whose work has graced the showroom of numerous firms, created this thin-profile conference table with sleek lines and easy adaptability to cords and computers. Named after the Hawaiian word for ocean, it’s a piece that can exude calm in an otherwise stuffy conference room.

Benchwall + Thinwall by Molo

A longtime favorite for its flexible, enveloping wall systems, Vancouver-based Molo debuted a new Benchwall + Thinwall system, set for public release this summer. The accordion-like partitions, based on a honeycomb shape, provide an otherworldly escape from the normal environment.

Unos Chair by Andreau World

Jasper Morrison’s sleek series of lightweight beech wood chairs boast muted, sleek lines, stylish enough that you almost want to avoid piling up these stackable seats. At a show where ergonomics and swivel chairs were a fitting focus, Morrison’s slim profile stood out.

Hitch Storage by Lowenstein

While numerous storage and space solutions promised modularity and productivity, we liked the more relaxed and refined Hitch Storage system, a colorful set of adjustable boxes held together with a series of scratch-free clamps.

Photo by Lowenstein

Syz Table by Keilhauer

Available in a range of shapes and heights, these aerodynamic tables seemingly eliminate hierarchy, encouraging a laid-back vibe and more relaxed conversation. Along with the company’s Lo seating system, it brings a Zen moment at the office; picture Bert Cooper settling down on one during a Sterling Cooper meeting.


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