THE BLOG
06/06/2013 03:53 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2013

NeoCon 2013 Preview

NEOCON is coming! NEOCON is coming! North America's largest contract furnishings trade show is set to kick off on Monday, June 10, at Chicago's Merchandise Mart and I, for one, could not be more excited. It is my favorite show of the year as all of the brilliant minds in the furniture industry come together to exchange brilliant ideas that push the workplace to new heights, view cutting-edge designs that amaze and share a few drinks with their peers. The problem with NEOCON is that there is so much going on that you can't help but experience FOMO at the show. If you are heading to the show, here are a few exhibits and presentations that should be on your agenda:

  • Outdoor Office Exhibition by Jonathan Olivares, 7th floor - As companies are looking for more alternatives for their employees to find a place where they work best, outdoor furniture and its ability to connect with nature will become a larger part of the furniture and office design industries. This is a fresh take on a new trend that represents a large, uncharted frontier for architects and designers. Olivares is also making a presentation on "The Outdoor Office" [Seminar Code: M120], on June 10 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Allsteel, Suite 1120 -Allsteel never fails to deliver at NEOCON. The company has aggressively invested in R&D and is a pioneer in collaborative furniture. The launches of Gather and Involve embrace the "third space" concept that focus on fostering innovation and engagement through employee collaboration. The company's vision of less individual space and a larger variety of collaborative spaces is gaining traction within the industry. Allsteel is preparing to launch some new products under the "Humans Being" theme which should be interesting.
  • izzy Nemo Bar & Trellis, Showroom 11-100 and 1st Floor, North Lobby -izzy+ is one of the most unconventional and innovative designers of furniture for 21st Century work and learning. The company's known for its experimental reinterpretations of workplace collaborative areas. The izzy+ showroom pulses with surprising and often funky takes on the modern office and classroom. This year, izzy+ has divided their showroom into four sections that vary in the mood and methods in which they create collaborative environments. This should be an excellent and imaginative source of inspiration for designers looking to influence today's knowledge workers to move, collaborate with peers and connect with nature.
  • Teknion, Showroom 10-48 - Teknion is another company that I admire that always goes big for NEOCON. Teknion's theme of "details - no detail is too small" will discuss the influence of seemingly small details that make a strong overall impact to the design. The company is putting together a roundtable that explores the importance of details in articulating the purpose of an object, creating its special distinction and beauty. This looks like a lively panel that takes place on Monday, June 10, from 2:30 - 4:30 in the Holiday Inn, Sauganash Ballroom in Mart Plaza on 350 W. Market Center Dr.
  • Nucraft, Showroom 11-66 - Nucraft has a slew of innovations in their office productivity and collaboration offerings that I'm looking forward to inspecting for myself. An update to their Merino Collection and Aerial office productivity furniture should be breathtaking and additions to their product line, including the Aja and Agility table collections, will attract a large crowd.

Arguably the best part of NEOCON is the collection of innovators and thought leaders at the show. Here's a quick listing of the seminars that are on my "Can't Miss" list (in no particular order):

  • All of the Keynotes: Quite simply, NEOCON keynotes are always entertaining, engaging and helpful. Make sure you're up and seated well before the 8:00 a.m. or 1:00 pm start time or else you'll be standing in the back as these fill up fast.
  • Fostering Failure: The New Equation to Innovation, June 10, 2:30 - 3:30 pm: Jim Thompson discusses what it means to take risks, fail and be "vulnerable in the pursuit of innovation"? Leave with a renewed passion for innovation--and the knowledge that the path to it is not a straight line. Your path to innovation is a series of questions, actions, thoughts, failures, and the right supportive reactions. Any seminar that leaves you with a renewed passion for innovation can't be missed, right?!
  • No Office? No Problem! An Inside Look at Coworking, June 11, 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. - A look at my previous post confirms that co-working is gaining popularity for a reason! In this session, you will see several insiders' views of coworking, from the millennial experience to the baby boomer perspective. This even includes an optional post session tour of 1871, the hottest new co-working space in Chicago to attendees who pre-register at http://1871tours.eventbrite.com.
  • Love Thy Neighbor: Designing Spaces that Foster Coworker Harmony, June 12, 1:30 - 2:30 pm -How we work has changed, but behaviors and protocols in the workplace have not always kept pace. As we constantly study collaboration, this session takes an interesting look at some of the challenges between collaborative AND FOCUS work. Through case studies and documented interviews, Michael Fazio explores how innovative workspace design can influence behavior and make spaces for both collaborative and focused work more productive and enjoyable.

Did I miss anything? If so, let me know what companies and seminars you are eager to see in the Comments section. Better yet, stop by one of the Idea Walls on the 7th and 8th floors of the Merchandise Mart and we can meet in person.

Sign up for our email.
Find out how much you really know about the state of the nation.