Good news – The Mart seems busy! Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for our industry, even if the halls of the Mart aren't as full as previous years. Certainly optimism is the theme of this year’s Neocon, as can be evidenced in the crowded hallways and cheerful colors that adorned many showrooms.
Haworth, always changing the accent color of their showroom, chose a bright yellow this year and added warm colored Gerber Daisies to their entrance. Harter, in Izzy’s former showroom, went with a glowing orange (also using Gerber Daisies as accessories). Izzy went with lime green and sunny yellow as the color palette in their new showroom. So with this in mind I made my way through the crowds to continue my quest for new products and fresh ideas…..and a little optimism.
Starting at Knoll, I test drove the appropriately-named Generation task chair, which was pretty comfortable with its Hytrel plastics that absorb shock and have memory. The back flexes down so that you can lean on it sideways (with your elbow pushing down the back) and there is room to be able to swing your legs to the side (or sit cross-legged, as I often do). There are only three adjustments, so its ease of operation is a welcome feature for all generations at work. Coming in eight color options for the body and two for the frame, there are so many color combinations you can dream up once you add upholstered seats into the mix, and Knoll had many on display.
Also colorful at Knoll is the Spark stack chair designed by Don Chadwick, which is very well priced (around $83 net) and can be used outdoors as well. It’s a one-piece injection molded plastic chair that will no doubt be a staple – this chair will be everywhere.
My personal favorite at Knoll was the Jehs+Laub designed chair and ottoman that has a quilted body and is reminiscent of the womb chair. Beautifully made (check out the leg detail on the fixed base) and an instant classic, at least in my book.
After my time at Knoll I saw lots of other great products that sparked my interest:
– The Bindu chair (both caster and pull up versions) and the Joel lounge chair by Coalesse – the shapes of these chairs hint at mid-century simplicity and elegance.
– Coalesse also had an amazing collection of outdoor furniture designed by five European designers, including the very busy Patricia Urquiola and Jean-Marie Massaud (who designed last year’s Holy Day intro). Called EMU Advanced, the collection is a somewhat offbeat mix of sculptural forms and patterns from wire mesh. I found the collection as a whole to be really charming and refreshing, with some whimsy for what is often an overlooked range of furniture. And as designers strive to incorporate Third Place thinking into the realm of the workplace, outdoor furniture will be a big part of the solution.
EMU Advanced Collection for Coalesse
– Harter has the new Otis chair, with a funky shell that is 100% post consumer recycled content. The chair is intended to be a hybrid of a side and lounge chair, something that we are seeing everywhere as work and life blur and new furniture types emerge.
– Herman Miller has a fantastic wall product that is called Umbra, as part of their alliance with SCA Walls. It’s a system to create a wood feature wall that is modular yet looks like millwork. The modules are canted in and out to create a “wow” factor and can be used in Reception Areas and really anywhere a focal point is desired
– As for carpet, Interface had two new collections of interest: Tectonic, and Cap and Blazer. The theme of the showroom was Alice in Wonderland, mixing surreal black and white elements with bold preppy stripes. Sounds strange but it looked great. The finely striped Tectonic pattern in particular was cut into an Escher pattern that was very cool, reminding me that you could do a lot with carpet tile to create a stunning visual impact.
In the midst of all the product spotting, I took some time to hear John Peterson and John Cary speak about their firm Public Architecture and their 1% Program which matches design firms with clients who are in need of pro-bono work that serves the public interest. It is inspiring to see architects devote their career path to social responsibility and teaching us all to "reset our priorities". I am happy to report that the firm I am with, Kling Stubbins, is already a part of the 1% program and is working on a school project in Philadelphia that is right in our neighborhood. Also announced today is the kick-off of Public Offering, a new program to encourage vendors to donate the money they would spend on the typical food gifts we all get at the holidays and instead donate the funds to the 1% Program. The motto is “Give Design Instead”. Shaw announced today that they would donate 1% of the proceeds from the sale of their new Homage collection, which clearly is a great way to serve by example.
Before I sign off, I want to let everyone know two exciting bits of news:
Kling Stubbins was selected by Shaw Contract as a finalist in the "Design Is" People's Choice Awards for our Novo Nordisk project. Please check out the finalists outside the Shaw showroom on the 10th Floor. You can also see all the finalists online and vote here. You can vote as many time as you'd like until July 3rd.
And lastly, the Novo Nordisk design team and client will be presenting their seminar on Wednesday at 11 am as part of the Neocon education program. The presentation is called "Nomads In the Workplace" and is a case study of the Novo Nordisk project highlighting a collaborative approach which supports the corporate tribe. Hope you can make it.
Enjoy the rest of the show and let me know what your favorite products are!
Royce Epstein, Sr. Resource Specialist, Kling Stubbins, Philadelphia