Earlier this month, we traveled to Chicago’s Merchandise Mart to see what’s new and upcoming in commercial design at NeoCon 2022. A few trends were easy to spot: acoustic walls, privacy booths and screens, and furniture that attempts to break down the wall between the office and home. There was a clear focus on accepting that we don’t know when things will go back to normal or what “normal” will look like when they do – so embrace the in-between. Take a look at some of our favorites from this year’s show.
Sustainable design brand Andreu World had a showroom full of impressive furniture – it was even leaking out into the busy hallway. Lots of seating was organized into small configurations that you could admire or use to take a break, including their new Nuez Lounge BIO front and center.
Nothing makes a bigger statement than the unexpected, which is why I fell hard for the Glyph Collection from Arc|Com and House Industries. Patterns were created using House’s typography designs, then objects shaped like those same designs were covered in the upholstery!
There’s something about Cumberland that seemed to physically pull me into their showroom. The large curvaceous couch, vibrant colors, and downplayed black and white walls made for the perfect design storm. While a lot of couches in similar shapes feature high backs, I love that this one has a shorter one with a flat surface that can be used.
I’m a sucker for a minimal table with architectural elements, and I found a new one in Helio from Davis Furniture. Refined and simple, there’s no space I can’t see these tables working in – and they look amazing grouped together or flying solo.
The learning solutions at this year’s show really wowed me, including EGOE life’s HPE100 Rocking Chair. It’s solid metal construction gives weight and definition, while the slight rocking movement it’s capable of producing is great for individuals with ADHD.
Greenmood’s Framed are a unique take on wall panels that use reindeer moss and large oak frames. They’re available in four collections: Geometric, Landscape, Synergy, and Harmony. You can hang them in any direction and their depths make for a lovely place to daydream.
FUNC’s products make me wish (just a little bit) that I were going back to work in an office. Their screens, in particular, offer visual privacy as well as some sound dampening. A few models can be opened and closed, depending on what’s needed at the time.
Hightower’s showroom is a masterpiece where I’d be happy to live. I had several favorite pieces this year, including the Kona Sofa (above) and the Proto Highback Lounge (below). The entire space is expertly designed with an unmatched vibe of relaxed but productive pieces.
Not just any minimal chair, Keilhauer’s Melete is special. While it comes with or without arms, the stingray-like shape of the armed version is poetic. You may not even notice them right away, but once you do it’s difficult to look away. It can be personalized with a range of finishes and bases.
In a show that was full of privacy pods, Loop’s stood out to me. Its small, but impressive, booth showcased two of their pods that have a fun, yet sophisticated, retro feel to them. The pink floor, pink walls, and ceiling covered in hanging pink telephone receivers made for a real showstopper (they’ve got the award to prove it, too).
You might think that each of these pieces from Nienkämper look uncomfortable, but I can guarantee that they are, in fact, the opposite. I was fully prepared to be letdown by the deceivingly simple structures, but their clean lines and functionality won me over in a big way.
A brand that never disappoints is Scandinavian Spaces. Their showroom included a bevy of modern seating options and other furniture, each defining their principle of wellness in the workplace. The collection of smart solutions shows an obviously thoughtful design process with results that would be just as lovely in your own space.
And lastly, TURF. I’m not stretching the truth when I say that their artful wall acoustics are the best I’ve seen. They’re easy to use and adapt to – I got the full experience in one of their beautiful rooms that was dedicated to relaxing for a moment. The amount of sound that was drowned out of a busy showroom was truly amazing.