NeoCon at 45

For the staff at Canadian Interiors, attending NeoCon – the National Exposition of Contract Furnishings, held every June in Chicago – is like  visiting, once a year, a dear, old friend who has moved far away: fun, familiar and full of surprises. Now in its 45th year, NeoCon attracts more than 40,000 design and architecture professionals to the Merchandise Mart, the much-loved Art Deco landmark at the junction of Chicago River branches, in the heart of the city. This is the place to catch up with friends – and catch up on trends – in the industry.

North America’s largest design expo and conference for commercial interiors, NeoCon offers 100 CEU-accredited seminars and association forums, along with top-notch keynote speakers. This year’s lineup includes influential architect Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG, now head of the Bjarke Ingels Group in New York and Denmark; Michael Vanderbyl, principal of San Francisco–based Vanderbyl Design, a multi-disciplinary studio; and Holy Hunt, president and CEO of her eponymous  brand.

When NeoCon debuted in 1969, it took up 222,000 square feet of space in the Mart. Today, it has spread out to fill more than one million square feet, over 10 floors. More than 700 showrooms and exhibitors offer innovative products and resources for corporate, hospitality, healthcare, retail, government, institutional and residential interiors. Following are five intriguing products making their debut this year.

Keilhauer is introducing the K-Modern Collection, a snazzy series of large chairs, a sofa and two occasional tables, designed -by Mark Kapka – to celebrate more-popular-than-ever mid-century modernism. Five seating designs include a round-back large chair, with wood legs; a modern large chair, also with wood legs; a classic armchair, with wood base and legs; a classic club chair (in two sizes), with wood legs; and a tufted tuxedo chair and sofa, with wood or metal base and legs. An end table and coffee table complete the collection.

Interface has created a pairing of two modular carpet tile designs: Duo and Trio. The palette of neutrals was inspired by the simplicity of undyed natural fibres like wool and linen; the texture is achieved with a balanced blend of nuanced pattern, movement, volume and void. Duo furnishes the pattern, palette and finish, while Trio adds a swath of colour accent in the same construction.  Both are offered in the 25cm x 1m skinny-plank size – a format that allows myriad installation possibilities.

From Teknion comes the Spectrum Lounge Collection, a versatile group that supports old and new planning options. Two- and three-seat sofas extend ad infinitum, with optional extended island end conditions. Designed by Jeffrey Bernett of CDS in New York, Spectrum takes into consideration advances in technology that have significantly shaped today’s office environment; for example, end armrests are wide enough to support tablets and laptops, while loose armrests can be flipped to reveal a hard surface for writing and miniature desking.

Chilewich’s introduction for 2013 is called Black, White and Green. The “black and white” is evident in four fresh weaves: Basketweave, Mini Basketweave, Bouclé and Lounge. Applications include wall-to-wall flooring, tile flooring, wall textiles, upholstery and window coverings As for the “green,” all Chilewich woven textiles contain Microban; flooring is Green Label Plus certified; and upholstery fabric is certified by GreenGuard.

Inspired by the famous California Zephyr passenger train, a new collection from Versa Wallcovering creates linear tracks on the wall. Zephyr has the appearance of an embossed texture: the fine lines angle, merge and diverge. Adding another dimension is a secondary background in pearl or silver, uncorking a pop of shimmer. A range of 18 colourways covers black, brights and neutrals.

NeoCon runs at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart June 10–12. We hope to see you there.