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NeoCon 2014 Recap: Commercial Highlights and Trends

Design Trends

NeoCon, North America's largest contract furnishings tradeshow, recently returned for another great year. Marking its 46th year June 9-11, 2014, at Chicago's famed Merchandise Mart, leaders in commercial design from around the world gathered to showcase the latest in commercial design and the future of the workplace.

Scouring the exhibit floors and attending seminars in search of the latest in commercial design, we found several key trends in design and color shaping the future of the workplace.

The Future of the Workplace
What will offices look like in the future? What will these spaces need in order to keep the most talented employees? These and other questions were discussed as the topic of the changing workplace was top-of-mind at a seminar by Steelcase and Perkins & Will. Here are a few key highlights:

1.Relationships continue to be important, and people are central to activities. The workplace is becoming the social center, as more employees work from home. And employers are looking more to critical thinking as a component of employee value rather than just tenure.

2.Technology will become even more seamless with less emphasis on what's cool and more emphasis on continuing to create technology that's embedded in architecture.

3.As transportation continues to be an issue, there will be an increase in commuting impacts. The home becomes the workplace, future employees will look to location benefits of being near employment and there will be an increase in car sharing, bicycles as main modes of transportation to work and office parks. With less time commuting, more time will be spent working.

4.The private office space is shrinking and will continue this trend. This decrease in personal space drives questions of personal space and privacy, productivity needs and changes in workplace socializing and amenity spaces such as fitness centers, cafeterias and coffee spaces.

For more insight into key workplace trends, visit

Commercial Color Trends
Color was on display throughout the show, indicating several key color trends in the marketplace. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Institute of Color, provided some key insights into trending commercial color. Overall, neutrals focused on texture and pattern play in warm and honey tones, along with darker charcoal and gray hues. And, secondary and tertiary colors are trending in the marketplace, with sherbet hues from lavender to orange showing more prominence.

Vibrant tones and yellow-greens continue to show up in product lines. To stay fresh, new approaches to color combinations are shown. Vibrant green is displayed in lighting, while mid-tone and emerald greens provide a base for acoustic tiles and dividers. Green is showing more in combination with gold, while murky greens are trending into deeper, darker tones.

DE5500 Olive Hint

DE5501 Twine

DE5568 Misty Hillside

DEA174 Olive Court

DE5461 Eden Prairie

Sunny yellows will trend as Dijon-yellow remains ever popular.

DE5328 Driftwood

DE5422 Egg Nog

DEA165 Hearth Gold

Rust, peach and apricot pervade the orange range and show in a variety of products, including laminate, glass and felt. Newer color pairings include cobalt, black, brown and leaf greens.

DE5246 Wild Maple

DE5293 Persimmon

DE5124 Southwestern Clay

DE5116 Rouge

DE5269 Yucatan

Indigo is key and freshens up palettes in combinations with cobalt and white. Taupe and beige also provide great color support to a range of trending blues.

DEA184 Parisian Night

DE5824 Outer Space

DE5908 Bellflower

DE5794 Lake Winnepeg

DE5891 Sky High

DEA135 Deep Ocean

Teal remains a classic color in the contract marketplace and will not be going anywhere anytime soon.

DE5716 Rolling Waves

DE5718 Mother Earth

DE5748 Loch Ness

DEA131 Teal Waters

DE5768 Mysterious Blue

Though a classic, red in patent leather is trending up. Poppy, a borderline color between red and orange has begun to capture the imagination of product designers, as well.

DE5104 Amour

DE5015 Minimal Rose

DEA151 Red Ink

Eggplant, orchid and lavender were everywhere at NeoCon and look to stay around for at least a couple more seasons. Radiant Orchid, Pantone's Color of the Year for 2014, provided a key backdrop and will continue to influence color design.

DE5938 Dusk

DE5944 Fresh Eggplant

DE5965 Roman Purple

DE6006 Plum Perfect

DE6018 Playful Plum

DEA194 Mulberry

Trends in Form, Material and Texture
Central to the viewing of trends in form, material and texture was the Interiors and Sources Materials Pavilion. Showcasing a variety of the latest in product development resources, this pavilion provided key insight into how current and future products are engineered.

Examples included cracked glass, honeycomb structures and products devised from mushrooms.

Other key trends in form, material and texture found throughout the show include the following:

The trend on felt continued on myriad products — from wallcoverings and upholstery, to acoustical wall panels.

Openest line by Patricia Urquiola for Haworth

Mushroom seating by Buzzi-Space

Bend Goods, based in Marina del Rey, CA, offers a choice selection of wire furnishings playing up geometry and graphic design. Bold, visually exciting, youthful and light-hearted. Great product choices for the hip lobby or cafeteria.

Glass walls with puddle and watery effects provide art and function. At Joel Berman Glass Studios, a walk path to the office spaces envelope the senses.

3M Architectural markets offer dichroic glass films that create a unique and affordable solution for interior glass surfaces.

Metallic Finishes
Traditional gold and silver get updated with embossing and patterning. Anodized color finishes also start to take center stage.

MDC Wallcoverings

From fashion runways to residential design, typography makes its way to commercial design.

MDC Wallcoverings

Momentum Fabrics

With the continued upswing in popularity of Bohemian and artisan lifestyles, companies in both residential and commercial design are looking to follow fashion design's lead with the introduction of products one wouldn't have seen in commercial design until the past couple of years.

Los Angeles-based Bentley Mills showcased its New Bohemian Collection of carpet designs, gorgeously saturated in color to play up the artistic side of this product. Showing the beauty in worn, handcrafted design, the collection shows a variety of colors and patterns, personifying this collection born of freedom and gypsy lifestyles.

AREA Environments collaborates with international artists to transform original artwork into murals and custom wallcoverings.

embed RED by AREA Environments

Evolve Furniture Group shows its latest artistic wall-panel system that can be customized to fit an office and its style. This graphic shows how a piece of art can transform the office space, creating new life and style.

Textural elements in many of the showrooms provided customers a tactile experience when walking through these areas. No technology to invade the senses, just a real-world sensory experience.

To find out more about NeoCon and the 2015 show, visit