New at NeoCon

When NeoCon (a. k. a. the National Exposition of Contract Furnishings) debuted in 1969, exhibitors filled 222,000 square feet of space in Chicago’s magnificent Merchandise Mart. By 2002, that space had expanded to one million square feet. NeoCon is now considered the largest trade show of its kind in North America.

The 40th annual edition promises to be bigger than ever. NeoCon 2008 will offer thousands of innovative products and resources -for corporate, hospitality, health-care, retail, government, and institutional and residential interiors -from more than 1,200 showrooms and exhibitors. Following is a preview of four promising new products.

Allsteel’s innovative Acuity chair was designed by Continuum, the Milan-based firm headed by Bruce Fifield. Its three essential components -weight-activated controls, a hybrid seat cushion, and a conforming mesh back and carrier combination -work together effortlessly and invisibly. The back is available in four carrier/mesh options; finish options for the chassis and base include polished aluminum, silver and graphite.

Groupe Lacasse’s Morpheo casegoods line was designed for the compact office space. Morpheo’s worktable shapes surround the user to provide more surface to work with, more space to collaborate with team members, and seamless interaction with technology; its workstations can be doubled up, mirrored, lined side to side, or positioned back to back. Two-tone colour combinations with anodized aluminum accents and translucent doors give it a contemporary look.

Herman Miller’s Teneo storage collection was designed by New York-based firm Birsel + Seck. Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck have created a new shape and structure using anodized aluminum rings of four heights; these rings support utility elements, such as drawers, shelves, work surfaces and cladding. Core products include single islands, side-by-side islands, presentation units, wall units, individual storage and surfaces. A range of colours, veneers and customizable finishes are available.

Keilhauer’s Mabru lounge series, designed by Oksana Ulisko, comprises a roomy three-seater sofa and a slipper chair with a full, deep seat cushion. The upholstery is drawn taut over the frames and cushions, emphasizing the form and smooth lines of the furniture. Equally at home in the reception area or the living room, Mabru is available in all Keilhauer textiles and leathers.

NeoCon 2008 runs from June 9 to 11.

Glass Act

Based in Montreal, Victor de Bourgie has been sculpting cold glass using his own technique for over 30 years. Now the artist has created the vivid and vibrant Collection BeauVerre: glass tile, glass/ ceramic tile and wired-glass wall panels in a wide variety of opaque and semi-opaque colours. The tile comes in a plain version; it may also be enhanced by sandblasted engraving (surface frost, surface light design, or deep-carvingstage design) for a 3-D effect. Collection BeauVerre is available exclusively at Montreal’s L’Espace V.

Greener Fabric

KnollTextiles’ latest collection includes three upholstery fabrics that are both environmentally friendly and high performance. Legend, Fable and Lore are made of Crypton Green, which KnollTextiles is using for the first time, although it has used Crypton in the past. This new fabric system uses post-consumer recycled polyester with optimized chemistry for reduced environmental impact and greater human safety. Crypton Green provides the same moisture, stain, odour and bacteria resistance as Crypton, but with an added guarantee that each ingredient has low VOC emissions.

Legend, the largest of the three patterns, is a modern take on traditional plaid; designed by Dorothy Cosonas, it incorporates six colours, as opposed to the more typical three or four. Fable, also designed by Cosonas, is a medium-scale leaf and vine, inspired by the work of French abstract painter Sonia Delaunay; reading like an organic stripe, the fabric uses a space dyed yarn, which lends subtle colour shading to the pattern. Lore, the textured companion pattern, uses the same space dyed yarn as Fable; here the variations in colour are more apparent and evocative of a natural grasscloth. Each fabric comes in nine clean colourways.

Wood for Good

British Columbia-based Durante Furniture has just introduced the Terra series of outdoor furniture, designed by Jeffrey Braun. Terra makes use of rich, durable machiche wood harvested from sustainable forests in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala – which helps to support well-managed forest practices, and in turn creates income for those who harvest the logs. Villages now have hope, along with running water. Thanks to recently opened sawmills, eight reserve communities in Central America will soon be provided with electricity and other advances. Says Ana Centeno, a member of the Carmelita co-operative in Belize, “There are now more possibilities for our children.”

Acton Ostry Architects -the 31-member Vancouver-based firm -has won two top awards from the Interior Design Institute of British Columbia: the 2007 IDIBC Best in Show Award and an IDIBC Gold Award of Excellence. Both were received for King David High School in Vancouver. Said the jurors of the winning project, “It’s like living in a piece of sculpture.”

A Winning School

King David is an independent Jewish high school that fuses the traditions of Judaism with the educational requirements of the province of British Columbia. All elements of the building are linked symbolically and functionally, with the intent of promoting educational, environmental and cultural values within the broader community.

The school is a long, thin, two-storey structure featuring an open, centrally located multi-purpose space that is used for student assemblies, worship and social activities. Circulation wraps and bends around the focal space as a constant reminder to students of their cultural and spiritual heritage. Finish materials are highly durable and include naturally finished wood, glass, concrete and masonry. The outside space furthers the cultural references through a network of landscaped terraces treated as an allegorical biblical garden.

Kind David High School had previously received a 2006 Vancouver Regional Construction Association Award and a 2007 Canadian Wood Council/ BC Wood Works Award.