Under contract

1 Evesham, 2 Marsden and 3 Meota, from Keilhauer’s Robin Rizzini-designed lounge collection. www.keilhauer.com4 Allsteel’s Merge tables fit wherever work happens. www.allsteeloffice.com5 The delicate-looking Relounge chair, by Greutmann Bolzern for Dietiker Switzerland. www.dietiker.com6 Groupe Lacasse’s Quorum Multiconference tables can be configured to meet varied needs and spaces. www.grouplacasse.com7 Leland International’s Brit Bench, by Simon Pengelly, promises cool seating for public spaces. www.lelandinternational.com8 The Saturnia modular carpet collection from Bentley Prince Street. www.bentleyprincestreet.com9 & 10 With its creative use of the company’s trademark white, Teknion’s booth, designed by Vanderbyl Design, was a standout. www.teknion.com Perhaps it was the weather, perhaps it’s just this scribe’s opinion, but the mood at IIDEX/NeoCon 2007 felt somewhat muted. Though attendance was reportedly up, the crowd lacked the frenzied pace seen in years past. And the displays seemed more modest: there were some perfectly good booths and exhibits, but not much that really bowled me over.

Industry heavyweight Teknion created a bright, open space to show off its newest goodies: District and Marketplace. Possibly the highlight of the show, the booth featured the company’s signature white, making it glow like a beacon on the show floor. Inside, the overhead lighting made the space noticeably brighter than its surroundings, as if to reinforce that you’re on Teknion’s turf.

Designed to keep up with the changing demands of modern office spaces, District and Marketplace are designed to walk the fine line between the need for some privacy and enclosure, and the open, collaborative workspace. The former is a collection of cabinets, desks, walls and windows that feature multi-tasking components, and have been adapted to fit smaller-scaled spaces and create the unified look of, well, a district. (Apparently, employee and manager workstations have decreased in size up to 40 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, over the past 15 years, according to Teknion’s John Hellwig.) The latter is a worktable designed for the ber-team-based office: Marketplace, the brainchild of Carl Gustav Magnusson and the Teknion team, can open up to a span of 20 feet. And thanks to the ingenious use of a triangular truss, that’s an uninterrupted span, so fewer people can complain about being squashed up against a table leg.

On the subject of workstations for small spaces, Dutch Design Works had a decidedly ’60s throwback piece, the Gispen Globus, designed by Michiel van der Kley. The Globus, which is intended for short-term use, opens up into two, circular halves; one is a seat, while the other contains the worktop. Not sure how comfortable it would be in the long run, but it sure is fun to look at.

Keilhauer featured an understated selection of Robin Rizzini-designed lounge chairs that provided a touch of elegance, along with respite and comfort to weary design mavens, and Nienkmper showed off its great stock of quirky and fun, yet practical, lounge and accent chairs by grouping them together as they might be found in their natural habitats.

After 130 years in the contract furnishings biz in Europe, Dietiker Switzerland has finally crossed the pond, making its North American debut at the show. Its products had previously been offered here through select dealers, but the company has now firmly planted its flag on the market, opening a headquarters and flagship showroom in Concord, Ont., just north of Toronto.

There were several special exhibits and spaces at the show, including Material Skills – The Future of Intelligent Materials; the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Lighting Show; Living Spaces: an Exhibition of 21 Canadian Contemporary Homes; and ecoHOME, from the Institute Without Borders at Toronto’s George Brown College. While informative, most of these didn’t do very much to captivate or draw in visitors. The new champagne bar looked great, though, and seemed quite popular.

All in all, there were some real gems to be found on the show floor, but this year’s edition of IIDEX/NeoCon Canada lacked the zip and panache of previous incarnations. Blame it on La Nia.