As promised, here is Part II of the 2016 Post Show Recap! In my last post I discussed the major renovations at the Merchandise Mart, which, for me, was one of the most memorable parts of the show this year. But onto the fun stuff: the trends!
As I said in the last post, NeoCon is a contract trade show, this means that the majority of the furniture is designed for the workplace. My firm specializes in large scale shopping centers so I will be presenting my observations from a retail perspective. That being said, I do come from a contract background so I'll throw in my two cents on that as well. A word about the photography: I'm sorry! Most of these shots were taken on my iPhone in between crowds of people. I'll try to do better next year :)
Top 10 Trend from NeoCon 2016:
1. Color Palette - Pantone does it again! Traces of 2016's Color of the Year were everywhere and I was all about it. I will never forget my senior year of college when all the Italian design houses started showing pastels and I was horrified. Honestly, what did I know...because they quickly made it across the pond and now I am OBSESSED. Bernhardt and Haworth stood out in particular, but little hits of blush tones and sky blues seemed to pop up in every showroom I went to. (Images: Slate, Haworth, Bernhardt)
2. High Backs and Privacy - Oh my goodness how quickly things catch on. It seems like everyone and their brother had a version of Steelcase's "Brody" and Haworth's "Openest" from 2015. Privacy is everywhere and I'm all for it. It goes without saying that the pendulum swung waaaay too far into the Open Office direction in the past decade, and anyone who has ever had to have a sensitive phone call between the hours of 8 and 5 on a work day knows how important it is to have somewhere quiet to hide. The industry's response has been to raise create third places that allow for acoustical and visual privacy without having to put up walls. From simple high back chairs, to entire enclosed workspaces (Teknion Zones, for example), the furniture industry has heard our cry for privacy loud and clear. (Images: Izzy, Okamura, Haworth, Teknion, West Elm Workspace, and Bernhardt)
3. Layering Occasional Tables - This one has been making the rounds in residential design for years. From West Elm Workspaces to OFS, designers have traded in their drum occasional tables in favor of smaller, stacked side tables. Bonus points if there is power included! (Images: Haworth, Davis, Coalesse)
4. Lush Planting - For the people who struggle to keep plants alive, watch out. Your days of being able to cover up your lack of a green thumb by putting succulents all over the place might be over. This year it looks like tropical, bright, and leafy greens have replaced our friendly, easy-to-keep-alive cacti. Walking into the Vitra Showroom felt like walking into a jungle with the vegetation looking quite lush and a little unkempt. (Images: Herman Miller, Vitra)
5. Power Integration - This isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, but the different locations and methods continue to grow. More upholstered pieces now include charging capability, and the range of occasional tables are better than ever. That Andreu World Reverse Table with the outlet below the table top? Instant Classic. I already want to spec it on every single project I have.
6. Stitching - This has always been a thing, but I found this design detail extra noticeable this year. Instead of working to make a seamless, fluid look on upholstered pieces more manufacturers seem to be using their stitching as an intentional design element.
7. Colorful Ottoman Groupings - Why use a boring bench when you can use six different ottomans in six different colors! I personally love this trend and am happy to see it alive and well. Even better if they are the weebly-wobbly ones from Kielhauer (first image). These spaces feel collaborative and high energy, but definitely not a place where you want to bunker down to do serious teamwork. A few showrooms uses a collection of ottomans with a low table to act as a community table, which I thought was a fantastic idea. Most community tables are bar height, but I like the idea of a cocktail height option to mix it up. There is a famous image from Arper showing a collection of their Pix Ottoman in a monochromatic scheme. I have tried to use this idea on so many projects to no avail...but someday it will happen! (Images: Kielhaure, Izzy, Teknion Okamura)
8. Active Postures - They say that sitting is the new smoking, and the industry is certainly listening. Height adjustable work surfaces have been around for quite a few years now, but some studies have shown that standing periodically might not be enough. In response, manufacturers have started to create products that move with you, like the BuzziBalance from Buzzispace, or the HiLo perching stool from Knoll. However, I'm still not totally sure about the Focal Upright Locus Leaning Seats, those things are intense. The purpose of these products is to allow the user to...well...wiggle around a little and keep your joints in motion. As a naturally very wiggly person, I would love one to have one of these. (Images: Knoll, Knoll, Buzzispace)
9. Table Trends - As someone who specifies A LOT of cafe tables, I was quite excited to see something new! I think we are all a little tired of specifying the same stainless steel round base over and over again, I know I am. Throughout the show, crisp, matte black bases kept catching our eye, and wood tops with a knife edge tops created such a clean profile. Did anyone else catch that gorgeous curved knife edge at NuCraft? They had something similar at Arper, but I've never seen it anywhere else! That being said, Vitra and Andreu World really stole the show for us. Their product is so sophisticated and simple, with every detail carefully designed and crafted. After seeing how crisp a cafe table can look, the thought of going back to a 1.25" thick rubber edge with a laminate top makes me want to cry. (Images: Mart Food Court, Nucraft)
10. Community Tables - Love them or hate them, community tables are here to stay. This year, the clear favorite included a wood top with some sort of a quirky or industrial design detail. Personally, I love the look of community tables, but I hate sitting at them. Especially at restaurants. Its such a bummer when you have come to catch up with a friend and spend the evening together and you get put by a group of strangers who may or may not be eavesdropping on your conversation. Ugh. Interestingly enough though, the biggest surprise of the show came from (believe it or not) Cabot Wren! We usually skip that showroom, but those triangular stools and tapered table bases were so cool! The stools were terribly uncomfortable, but they certainly get points for originality. (Images: Cabot Wren, Teknion, and I can't remember the last one!)
That's a wrap on Neocon 2016! As I said before, a lot of these trends have been around for a few years, but there are more options now than ever. Neocon is such a fun experience, its so amazing to see designers from all over come together at the same event every year. Even though there are thousands of attendees, you always seem to run into people you know in every showroom! It's like a big design industry family reunion. Some day I will do a post sharing tips for going to the show, and what to expect when you go for your first time, but that will have to wait until next year :)