NeoCon 2019

NeoCon 2019 was nothing short of amazing! Design professionals traveled from around the world to visit the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to learn about new products, see trends among the showrooms, inspire innovation, and continue education.

Furniture & Design

Innovative had seven representatives at NeoCon this year including Furniture Specialists, Designers, and our Furniture Director. We toured Teknion’s (our platinum manufacturer) showroom along with our other furniture and textile partners such as HON, Global, National, OFS, and Groupe Lacasse, Andreu World, Studio TK, Luum, Keilhauer, Stylex, Designtex, Momentum, Davis Furniture Industries, Workrite, and ESI.

There was an array of reoccurring themes across the showrooms, such as color and finish trends, privacy strategies, biophilia, furniture insights, marketing and experience, and NeoCon proud moments that we wanted to enlighten you on! Check them out below!

Color & Finish Trends: NATURAL is IN

If you had a showroom that wasn’t what we are calling “desert Mediterranean” at NeoCon this year, you may have missed the memo. We saw a lot of natural colors found in the desert such as burnt reds, browns, and sandy yellows, along with pops of Mediterranean colors like electric blue, vivid red and forest green. Our favorite representation of the NeoCon 2019 color trend is Studio TK’s Freehand occasional tables.

In addition to natural and lively bright colors, we noticed natural materials such as marble and woods. We saw many bentwood chairs representing natural material. Patterns were a juxtaposition to the organic colors and materials and were more dynamic and linear. Straight lines and geometric shapes conquered design palettes.

Furniture Insights: CHOICE

Overall, we noticed a focus on user functionality, attention to detail, and a variety of furniture types offering occupants choice. Furniture items were sleek and simple, structural beams have been integrated into seating to eliminate legs and offer a clean look. We noticed a lot of open shelving contributing to personalization which included accessories and knickknacks. The attention to detail was stunning from leather door pulls to painted metal legs encouraging pops of color and a customized look. When it came to user functionality many showrooms didn’t skip a beat, we saw ledge tables with bag hooks, height adjustability, and a thinner workstation pedestals to meet the changing needs of the user. With more mobility and less paper, they hit the nail on the head to meet functionality.


Showrooms this year had a strong focus on user experience and belonging. With functional details, personalized accessories, and meaningful statements, showroom tours felt more personal and spoke to the brand and identity of each company. Every showroom was unique in telling their story from exhibit style to home style we were able to feel the brand culture and intent. Many marketing pieces and CEUs talked about the importance of community, belonging, personalization, and experience in the built environment.

Privacy Strategies: FINDING THE BALANCE

The pendulum has swung from mostly enclosed space to very open environments and now as an industry are trying to find a balance of collaborative and individual focus space. We saw many approaches to achieving this goal. Strategies such as acoustical treatments, space dividers, and phone booths were found in most showrooms we visited. Felt seemed to be the most popular choice for sound absorption and we saw it being used in lighting, on walls, hanging as space dividers, and on furniture such as individual “pods” (semi-enclosed furniture items). In hopes to provide visual privacy, many manufacturers unveiled space separation pieces like OFS’s Obeya wood space divider.

Phone booths made their mark this year with some manufacturers adding them to their offering or enhancing them with features such as power, lighting, and ventilation!

Biophilia: IT’S A THING

Biophilia is our natural desire to connect with nature whether that be through views of nature, art representing nature, or indoor greenery. Nearly every showroom this year had at least one succulent incorporated. Many showrooms included greenery throughout or introduced green wall systems and plant integration. From palm leaf wallcovering to cloud ceiling elements, biophilia was represented throughout the Merchandise Mart.

Contract Magazine’s Best of NeoCon Awards: PROUD MOMENTS

This year marks the 30th year for the Best of NeoCon Awards presented by Contract Magazine. The jury was composed of 41 industry professionals who split into seven teams to judge each participating brand. 83 awards were distributed this year, 34 Gold Awards, 34 Silver Awards, 8 Innovation Awards, 6 Editors’ Choice Awards, and 1 Best of Competition Award. We are excited to announce that our manufactures won awards in the following winner categories!

  • Best of competition:
    • Architectural Products, OFS, Obeya
  • Gold award:
    • Acoustic Privacy & Modular Solutions, OFS, LeanTo
    • Moveable Walls, Teknion, Tek Vue
    • Seating: Conference, OFS, Kasura
    • Seating: Sofa & Lounge, Andreu World, Rap Sofa
  • Silver award
    • Furniture Collections for Collaboration, STYLEX, Free Address
    • Lounge Furniture Collections Andreu World, Rap Sofa
    • Seating: Conference, Davis Furniture Industries, M75
    • Seating Guest, Andreu World, Gala
    • Seating: Outdoor Contract & Hospitality, Andreu World, Nuez Outdoor
    • Space Dividers/Partitions/Screens, Naava, Naava Flow
    • Tables: Communal & Task, Davis Furniture Industries, Inform
    • Textiles: Upholstery, Momentum, Architectural Textures Collection
    • Wall Treatments, Designtex, Metallic Wallcoverings
  • Innovative award
    • Furniture Collections for Collaboration, Teknion, Bene Box
    • Tables: Occasional, Davis Furniture Industries, Lift
  • Editors’ choice award
    • Tables: Occasional, Studio TK, Freehand Occasional Tables
    • Textiles: Upholstery, Luum Textiles, Future Tense Collection

See The Best of NeoCon Gallery of Winners here.

NeoCon 2019 was another successful trip for us, we learned a lot, were inspired, and had fun too! We will incorporate these insights into our daily work and stay inspired-we hope you do too…until next year!

About the Author: Kelly Link,

CID, LEED AP, WELL AP, Fitwel Amb.

Insights Specialist at Innovative Office Solutions