Off to Work We Go!

The Merchandise Mart in Chicago (or now, simply, the Mart) is massive. But when 50,000 architects and designers pack its halls in early June for NeoCon to discover new products and prototypes transforming commercial design, the beautiful Art Deco building gets claustrophobically small and almost impassable. Which is why industry insiders and show veterans typically stick to a few floors, and for interior designers, floors three, seven, 10 and 11 (and emerging showrooms across the street in 325 N. Wells Street) are where all the good stuff is.  

Floor 3  


Tarkett has piled all of its brands into one new giant showroom space, including Johnsonite, Desso, Benyon, Renner, FieldTurf, and Tarkett Sports. Prominently displayed was the new TextureMap and ColorMap collaboration between Tandus Centiva and Jhane Barnes. Here, a grid, labyrinth, and systematic arrangement of square patterns are arranged using math and science to dictate the overall rhythm. 

TextureMap, Tarkett, NeoCon
TextureMap by Tarkett


The F4 chair, designed by Toronto-based Fig40 for New Jersey-based Stylex and launched at Neocon, is intriguing due to a limited adjustment abilities and very specific range of motion enabled through the primary design gesture of the yoke the chair sits on. Informed by the low profile suspension used by Corvettes since the 1960s, the mechanism contained within its side rails, leaves the seat area open below to flex freely creating a very comfortable sit. 


F4 Chair, Fig40, Stylex, NeoCon
F4 Chair by Fig40 for Stylex


The love affair between Toronto-based Keilhauer and Austrian trio EOOS continues with the Luno lounge chair, the story behind which is interesting: rather than starting the design process with a three dimensional object, the chair was created using only two-dimensional cut pieces, which were then folded together to create volume and shape from tension. 

Luno, Keilhauer, NeoCon
Luno by Keilhauer


Toronto-based II BY IV Design turned an unassuming black and white sketch of a single continuous looping line into the Scribble table, the first piece created by their firm’s product studio. Partnering with ICF Group/Nienkämper, that original round coffee table has evolved into several iterations and a variety of glass tops and coloured bases. 

Scribble, Nienkämper , NeoCon
Scribble, by Nienkämper
Scribble, by Nienkämper 
Scribble, by Nienkämper

Floor 7 

Chair│MU Form 

MU Form made its NeoCon debut with original designs for commercial and residential spaces. With pieces such as the Fortune Stool already in permanent museum collections, MU Form continued the same attitude in their showroom by displaying product such as the V Chair like art, with each piece on its own LED-lit pedestal. 

V Chair, by MUForm, NeoCon
V Chair, by MUForm

SQAPE│Maars Living Walls 

The Netherlands-based partition walls manufacturer had a couple hits at the show, including SQAPE, a steel concept wall that addresses the increasing demand for privacy in open-office spaces. Appearing as one fluid surface, elements such as door-handles are innovatively integrated in the construction, and there is no doorframe or visible hinges because of pivot construction. 

Maar Living Walls, SQAPE
Maar Living Walls, by SQAPE


Chilewich Contract’s new line launched at NeoCon, called Shade, is a flat and tight twill weave that features a unique rotation of signature bi-colour yarns which create a subtle ombré effect in the warp. The bi-colour yarns share one common colour which helps to produce an understated yet expressive shift in colour throughout the textile. 

Shade by Chilewich, Birch, NeoCon
Shade by Chilewich, Birch
Shade by Chilewich, Hickory
Shade by Chilewich, Hickory

Edge Desk 

The Edge Desk System is an all-in-one desk, chair and easel. Arriving fully assembled in the box, The Edge Desk purports to be the first-ever kneeling desk that can be set up in less than a minute with no tools, and just as quickly folded and stowed away. Users can work in “Landscape” mode like a traditional desk or convert into “Portrait” and use as an artist’s easel. 

The Edge Desk, NeoCon
The Edge Desk

Floor 10  


The three styles grouped under the Outskirts Collection moniker all carry names and patterns that attempt to graphically represent the ongoing collision of realities in design: Outlier, with metallic lines and harsh geometries; Ritual, with broken lines resembling branches and other botanicals; and Coexist, with no specific linear direction and an all-over-the-place visual style that perfectly sums up our current zeitgeist. 


Bentley Outskirts Collection, NeoCon
Bentley Outskirts Collection


This new contract textiles collection includes Piet and Theo, two names recognizable to anyone familiar with the De Stijl movement, which is where the inspiration came from for these textiles. Named after Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, the Grid carries rectilinear minimalist motifs in predominately neutral colourways. 


Grid by Brentano, NeoCon
Grid by Brentano

Form + Finish│J+J Flooring Group 

The historic Pewabic pottery studio in Detroit, Mich., provided the inspiration for J+J’s newest collection. Somehow, the design team found a way to translate design cues such as texture, luster, pattern and dimension normally unique to pottery and glazing onto flooring carpets. The results are bold and intriguing, and work especially well in commercial spaces housed in reclaimed industrial environs. 


Form + Finish by J+J Flooring
Form + Finish by J+J Flooring


While they didn’t have anything as radical as last year’s jungle gym, BuzziSpace is still doing clever things in the sound baffling sector, and launched several new solutions at NeoCon, including the BuzziPleat. Designed by 13&9, the decorative piece can be used purely as an acoustic solution on a wall or a hanging ceiling pendant, with or without an optional lighting element.  


Summit Lounge│Integra  

When space is at a premium, less really is more. Integra acknowledges this with the Summit Lounge series, whose notable characteristic is an inherently smaller footprint, making the chairs well-proportioned for healthcare waiting areas or other commercial spaces that desire a comfortable lounge look and feel, but which have space constraints. 

Summit Lounge, by Integra, NeoCon
Summit Lounge, by Integra

River Snake│Sandler Seating 

Got a massive public space you don’t know what to do with? Mac Stopa can help you with his River Snake modular stool system. Manufactured from soft polyurethane and reinforced with a steel internal sub-frame, it is also weatherproof and flame retardant, making it a titillating solution for large indoor or outdoor spaces. 

River Snake, by Sandler Seating, NeoCon
River Snake, by Sandler Seating
River Snake, by Sandler Seating
River Snake, by Sandler Seating

Floor 11 

Loft│Pallas Textiles 

At the show Pallas Textiles debuted the Mid Century Mood Collection, Ineffable Collection, and Loft Collection, the latter of which is the coolest: this is a fabric that reveals, not conceals, building materials, giving industrial interior design aesthetics an urban edge. 

Loft Collection, by Pallas Textiles, NeoCon
Loft Collection, by Pallas Textiles


KI has been doing some neat things in the educational sector lately, and showed more of that at NeoCon this year with the launch of the Ruckus Collection. Here, innovative seating, cantilevered desks, and super-functional lockers, cubbies, and bookcases are all based on a model of mobility, which studies are showing is essential to cognitive development and learning. 

Ruckus by KI, NeoCon
Ruckus by KI

 Solis & Boccaporto│Koleksiyon 

It is always a pleasure to see what Koleksiyon has cooked up for NeoCon. This year, launches included the Calder, Boccaporto, Solis, and Poema collections. Designed by Metrica, Boccaporto is a combined seating and working unit developed for open offices and public areas, while Solis, by Studio Kairos, cleverly nests seating elements together in a way that looks precarious yet is surprisingly comfortable. 

Solis by Koleksiyon, NeoCon
Solis by Koleksiyon
Boccaporto by Koleksiyon, NeoCon
Boccaporto by Koleksiyon


Spec Furniture is known for its Behavioral Health products for supervised and semi-supervised areas. Joining the Dignity Series and other heavy duty seating solutions, Hardi brings a completely new look, feel and construction. Made from rotationally molded polyethylene, the extremely robust one-piece chair is virtually indestructible and a breeze to clean. 

Hardi by Spec, NeoCon
Hardi by Spec

 325 N. Wells Street 

Butterfly Lounge│Trendway 

The Lounge and Butterfly Colors Collection, designed by Niels Gammelgaard, are new additions to the existing Butterfly product line. Inspired by his Danish design origins, the Butterfly Lounge Chair is a low-height seat with extra cushioning and relaxed seating angles whose generous width make it a welcome addition to waiting and lobby areas.  

Butterfly Lounge by Trendway, NeoCon
Butterfly Lounge by Trendway
Butterfly Colors by Trendway, NeoCon
Butterfly Colors by Trendway


The YouToo collection calls upon an innovative back suspension system and a ratchet back height adjustment knob to articulate the custom capabilities the collection’s name suggests. 


YouToo by Allseating, NeoCon
YouToo by Allseating