a neocon of firsts

I would argue that the most visible activity among contract floors inside Chicago’s Merchandise Mart during the eight o’clock hour of Friday, June 17, was the glazing installation at the Interface showroom. I was there to witness the resealing of the space due to a pair of engagements that extended my stay. Opening up the showroom for NeoCon was a refreshing change and hopefully a successful one for Interface. I can’t remember another permanent showroom going “open air”, so I will recognize that as the last in a series of NeoCon firsts.


First NeoCon attended with my daughter

Lindsay was encouraged by fellow students at Columbia College Chicago to attend NeoCon and soak up the design scene. We visited showrooms, collected literature and I introduced her to friends and colleagues. Where possible, she tried her best to win an iPad. Lindsay attended my Monday presentation and helped distribute the summaries, making her airfare deductible.


First NeoCon as a Speaker

At 9:30AM on Monday, I presented findings from my research project about relationships between office furniture dealers and interior designers. More specifically, it concerned how can dealers “wow” interior designers in the furniture specification process. Preparing and giving the presentation was a great experience. I’ll write about the findings in future posts.

Yours truly on the speaker's wall of names.


First NeoCon emphasizing Desking over Cubicles

I realized it after the fact: cubicles were largely absent this year. It appears that the rage is for desking. That and anything that allows a few people to sit together while they email, tweet or otherwise connect with those not present. It seems to me that most desking series look alike and, consequently, one desking display looks like the next.


First NeoCon rewarding Smaller & Boutique Manufacturers

An immediate qualification is in order. Because the research I conducted underscored the interest of interior designers in products from smaller or boutique manufacturers, I decided to tally this year’s Best of NeoCon winners.

Annual Sales $800 M* or higher: 14 awards


Annual Sales less than $800 M**: 20 awards, plus Best of Competition

(*Examples: Haworth, Knoll & Steelcase)

(**Examples: Davis, Izzy & Keilhauer)


First NeoCon Showroom Nap Attempt

It’s Wednesday afternoon. I’m on the 11th floor and feeling more than a bit dozy. A few minutes “offline” would recharge the batteries. Walking along, I spot a Mies van der Rohe chaise in the Knoll showroom. For a short while, Knoll had a human prop demonstrating the superb comfort of a classic design.

The Knoll MR chaise.


First NeoCon with a Best of Competition Instant Presentation

I doubt the ink had dried on the paperwork before I was receiving a detailed presentation about Halcon’s Motus table. This product appears to be designed by people who use tables of this sort everyday, which easily explains the clever logic in how the table rolls, connects, powers up, tilts and stores. Congratulations, Halcon.

Motus tables from Halcon, winner of a Gold, a Silver and the Best of Competition in the 2011 Best of NeoCon Awards.


First NeoCon of Unexcelled Hospitality

My flight to Chicago departed on time and arrived early, with my baggage onboard. The hotel was one I’d not stayed at before, but I will certainly stay there again. I was able to avoid the downpours walking to and from the Mart. I traveled home by car, driving along the back roads past choirs of cicadas and past at least three ice cream shops before Dad would stop.

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