At ndp, we attend a lot of conferences and trade shows to support our clients and industries served. Several of us returned recently from Chicago where we attended the 49th annual NeoCon trade show for commercial design. We thought we’d take a few minutes and share with you some of our thoughts and observations about the conference.
POV > First of all, thank you all for a great time that we enjoyed in Chicago last week at NeoCon. Before we begin looking back on the conference, please take a moment to introduce yourself and share a little about what you do here at ndp. And, just for fun, would you share the most bizarre or unusual tchotchke you’ve ever brought home from a conference or trade show.
AN > My name is Abbie Niderberg and I am the Market Development Manager at ndp. I have only been to a couple conferences thus far, so I am sure my response will not be as interesting as some of the others. This year I brought home a card with verbiage written about the specific company. This sounds normal, but I can actually plant the card into soil, and it will grow different vegetables! I know this isn’t necessarily a trinket, but I thought it was the most interesting “present” I brought back.
TF > I’m Todd Foutz and handle marketing and business development for ndp. NeoCon is one of my favorite shows to see what the latest design trends are and learn about new trends in colors, textures, environments, etc. Of course, the competition for who has the coolest bag is hot at NeoCon. But one of the strangest giveaways I’ve picked up at a trade show was a dent puller that I got at a locksmith trade show. Of course, this was before TSA regulations where a dent puller tucked in my suitcase was no big deal.
AS > I’m Amy Smith, account executive here at ndp. I work with Universal Fibers, one of our commercial interiors clients along with a few other clients who are not in the commercial interiors space. NeoCon is always a great chance to see what’s happening around the country and globe in the industry—it’s full of inspiration and I love being there! I don’t know that I’ve ever received a bizarre tchotchke at a conference, but several years ago I wet to a conference where they gave everyone a pair of those plastic wayfarer-look-a-like sunglasses that were branded. I ended up wearing them throughout the conference (conveniently held in sunny Orlando) and I still have them. This year, I was coveting the Moscow mule mugs given away at one of the booths! They were beautiful—what a great idea for an event giveaway.
DR > And I’m Denise Rushing and oversee Account Management at ndp. This year was my 16th NeoCon and each year I discover things new and different. The most bizarre but greatest tchotchke I ever received was a handmade walking stick. It was beautiful, but a bit difficult to pack in my suitcase.
POV > Dent pullers and walking sticks, huh? Those are bizarre! Based on your experience, how would you rate this NeoCon show overall?
AN > As I mentioned previously I am a newbie with conferences, and I will say this conference is not fully what I expected. When I say it’s not fully what I expected, that is actually a good thing. NeoCon was a whirlwind of excitement, with endless beautiful show rooms. When you walk around, there a special energy you get. The excitement from the attendees is contagious. Needless to say, I can’t wait to attend again next year!
TF > NeoCon continues to grow and this year did not disappoint. The crowds were strong but not too overwhelming. The quality of exhibitors is fantastic. I always enjoy seeing new products and startup companies exhibiting. I think this show was a little larger than last year. I’m also really looking forward to next year at the 50th anniversary of NeoCon. That should be a spectacular show!
AS > NeoCon is a great show! If you’re looking to learn more about the commercial interiors industry or just to be inspired, it will not disappoint!
TF > Absolutely!
AS > This was only my second year at NeoCon, but I have to say it can be a little overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. There’s so many visuals bombarding you, that’s it’s important to have a sense of what you are looking for before you arrive. Stepping out into the Mart is sort of like walking up out of the Subway into Time Square at night—you’ll want to know where you are headed so you don’t get lost or overwhelmed!
DR > Yes, I agree with Todd, the show was very well attended and the larger spaces continue to amaze me with the product innovations and creations. Overall designs were very streamlined this year as workspaces continue to evolve creating great transportable spaces that look as good as they function.
POV > Tell us about some of the overall trends that you identified at the conference this year that you thought were interesting.
AN > There was a strong focus on health and wellness, which has carried over to the furniture industry. The saying “sitting is the new smoking” really is taking a stance. I saw numerous standing desks, chairs which keep you moving during the day, and wellness tracking technology to document movement throughout the day. Any solution to get you up and moving was there.
TF > It’s interesting. I kept seeing this rich blue jean blue color in so many fabrics and materials early on. But Abbie and I had lunch on Monday with a couple of designers who were talking about all of the blush and pink hues they were seeing. After that, I saw them everywhere. It was also wonderful to see so many live plants that were becoming parts of the office environment from simple succulents in dishes to entire living walls.
DR > Amy noted earlier that there are so many visuals - you're right about that, Amy - but I noticed that each designer was trying to find ways to calm the product users. Through textures, colors, lighting, flooring designs…designers realize that employees are running around and doing a million things each day and they want the workspace designs to help with easy transitions and allow users to “settle in” at their workspaces. With the use of botanicals, simple shapes, and cool colors, product designs are there to soothe.
AS > It's interesting to hear you say that because last year, so many of the designs that I saw were about inspiration from the great expanses of nature. There were multiple groups who had taken trips to the dessert for inspiration, for example. This year, I saw a lot more collections inspired by the minutia or hidden things around us. One of the great things about NeoCon is that you get to see the idea that “inspiration is where you find it” in just about every corner of the show.
POV > One of the benefits of attending NeoCon is the ability to meet directly with manufacturers. For design professionals who are working to develop healthcare spaces, what are some of the things that stood out to you that will impact hospitals and healthcare organizations in the coming years?
AN > Design professionals are working on humanizing healthcare spaces. The different designs of furniture in the mock hospital rooms made the space feel more comfortable and inviting. They also have different types of lighting which can help reduce stress and calm the patient.
TF > Well, the hospitality trend continues in healthcare as more attention is paid to the comforts of the patient, families and caregivers. Soft, easy fabrics. Wonderful, warm lighting. Flexible, adaptable furniture. And then there is the introduction of technology into every aspect of healthcare environments. From devices that track how long you are standing or sitting to dashboards that compare and display stats from multiple workstations and teams.
AN > Actually that reminded me to add that the new health and wellness trend in furniture may help the health of our overall working population. Active office spaces are easy to implement, and will hopefully help decrease health issues due to low activity each day. If there are office tools integrated into people’s daily lives, they will become more active without even thinking about it. In turn, decreasing health issues which is pretty awesome!
AS > I believe that the new emphasis on bringing natural textures and soothing tones into commercial spaces will impact hospitals---one of the places where calm is of most use!
DR > Yea, Abbie and Amy are both correct. Hospitals are all about improving your stay and that starts with the environment in which the patient is healing. The healthcare industry continues to look at the hospitality industry for cues on how to make patients feel at home and get better faster. Family support during stays is also key, as we know, so there are more options for patient’s families to be there and be comfortable.
POV > NeoCon is so massive and it is very hard to see it all. Are there any aspects of the show that you would have liked to spend more time with?
AN > I completely agree, it is quite a big event. I wish I had more time to look at the interior decorations. I found the new design trends to be very interesting, and could have taken some ideas for my own home!
TF > Oh there are so many areas of the show that I didn’t get a chance to visit but it’s so much to take in. I would have liked to have spent more time with designers overall. It would be nice to have more opportunities for collaboration among designers at NeoCon. The show floors are great but nothing beats talking directly to designers about what they are seeing, how they are designing spaces for corporate, healthcare, hospitality and other industries.
AS> I always wish for more time to explore some of the smaller booths. There’s so much to take in, it can be challenging to make it to every single space!
DR > I agree, Amy, it’s always difficult to find time for some of the smaller spaces as the larger exhibitors, with permanent spaces, tend to consume a lot of time with the product innovations and technologies. But it’s in the smaller spaces where you get to see a germ of an idea, or a startup, and that’s really exciting too.
POV > Thanks everyone for participating in this wrap up discussion about NeoCon 2017.
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