Visiting NeoCon 2019

NeoCon is an event that we look forward to every year. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and to see new trends coming in the industry. Here’s our recap of what we saw.

Increasingly, we are seeing more and more neotenic design (soft, exaggerated chubby proportions) and crafting tech, like receptacles placed in wood housings and leather pulls and accents, which speak to our desire for softer, more humanistic things. End tables made of tree stumps, moss walls, leather-wrapped bookshelves, and endless planters all contribute to biophilic design and the connection to nature craved by a population largely stuck indoors.

Hygge may have been the runner up for word of the year in 2016, but Scandinavian style is showing it’s staying power. Clean and minimal, yet warm and cozy, the aesthetic fits in nicely with the craft movement and the trend of blurring the line between public space and residential space. 

Wood accents, layers of area rugs, metals available in a rainbow of colors, heavily textured textiles, and terra-cotta clay as a grounding neutral were common throughout NeoCon. We also saw softer finishes for desks and tabletops like linoleum and leather that will acquire a patina from the oil of human hands.

Interestingly, this was juxtaposed to nanotechnology-coated laminates which diffuse fingerprints so as to be nonexistent to the naked eye. While we may want the patina associated with the luxury of high-quality leather, fingerprints make an item look fake, cheap, and dirty; associations that are still very much a no go.  

While still very much present, snake person is taking a seat in the background as it’s paired with coral, desaturated oranges, and bright reds. Scandi colors of mint, rose, terra-cotta, mustard, and warm grays dominated but were mixed with the occasional pop of primary red, yellow, or blue in what can best be described as a Wes Anderson-style color palette.

Plaids, nubby textures, quilted fabrics, wool fleck, and remarkable advances in weaving and knitting technology move textiles forward while keeping a connection to craft and nostalgia for the analog. While solid textures dominated upholstered items, with manufacturers preferring to mix color, a few notable showrooms dared to follow fashion’s Fall ‘19 trend of irreverently mixing patterns.

As we spend more of our hours in the workplace, the workplace is starting to look more like home. Ancillary furnishings continue to grow as major manufacturers purchase or partner with smaller companies to round out their offerings as they compete for the “third space.” Items once seen as support, such as lounge, shelving, storage, and accessories dominated showrooms just as they are dominating the workplace. 

While more employees are being given a choice in where they work, manufacturer’s have acknowledged we’re not quite completely untethered. An abundance of powered furniture or powered accessories keep employees charged and connected while they get cozy for a team meeting in the “living room” or go off to focus in a private lounge chair with a high back and sides.