NeoCon Observations

I came home from NeoCon early this year to attend my
daughter’s 8th Grade graduation (!), but I wanted to share with you
my personal favorites from the show. I did not get a chance to see everyone I
would have liked to, but these were the highlights among the showrooms and
booth spaces I did see. (For anyone who is still at the Mart today, these are
some things you should see.)

On 11:

Showroom 1111: Knoll’s Antenna Workspaces, designed by
Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger of Antenna Design, is a fascinating furniture system that
is really worth a look. Udagawa and Moeslinger based the system on their
expertise in user interface, and their respect for the design legacy created by
Florence Knoll. The major focus in the Knoll showroom was on Antenna, but that
did not overshadow a fabulous new collection of upholstery and drapery textiles
designed by Rodarte for Knoll Luxe. Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte
worked closely with KnollTextiles creative director Dororthy Cosonas to design
a breathtaking and quite unique collection that will not be attainable for
everyone (price point) but is certainly something to aspire to. Antenna
Workspaces received a Best of NeoCon Innovation Award; the Rodarte Collection
received a Best of NeoCon Gold Award in the Upholstery category.

Showroom 11-124: I loved Okamura’s Leopard high back
ergonomic chair last year when it was first introduced at NeoCon, but the Best
of NeoCon judges didn’t agree. This year’s jury awarded the mid-back version
with an Innovation Award, and rightly so. This very interesting chair offered
by one of Japan’s largest office furniture companies looks a bit scary to sit
in, but is so rewarding when you do.

On 10:

Showroom 1032: Designtex didn’t win any Best of NeoCon
Awards but was very much worth stopping by. The back of the showroom featured
the latest offering in the company’s Digital Walls product line, Rinekwall,
from the work of interior designer Dana Agamalian and photographer John Rinek.
Closer to the front, Designtex’s writeup h2o demonstrated an easy and flexible
way for designers to turn any painted surface into a writable/erasable wall.

Showroom 1032: Next door, also in Space 1032, I loved
Coalesse’s SW_1 collection of conference tables and seating, designed by Scott
Wilson and MINIMAL, which took a Best of NeoCon Innovation Award. Wilson has
worked for IDEO, Motorola and Nike, among others. This is his first pass at
furniture, and shows great promise for more good things to come.

Showroom 1039: The Mannington Commercial showroom was interesting from
front to back. For the second year in a row, the focus was not only products,
but also Mannington’s annual *tx:style Design Challenge. It’s too late to vote,
but the work of all the young designer finalists was on display at the back of
the showroom. Good stuff. This competition is smart for Mannington’s business,
and gives young designers a real opportunity to break into product design. Visit the Mannington website for updates on the competition.

Showroom 1044: Gary Lee Partners has really outdone itself
this time with the beautiful Proximus casegoods series for Halcon, winner of
the Best of NeoCon Gold Award in the casegoods category. On display as it is,
it gets my personal award for the most show-stopping new introduction.

Showroom 10-121: The InterfaceFLOR space was brought to
vivid life with the bold new Memphis Collection carpet tile series, designed by
David Oakey. Fun, fun, fun. The product took a Best of NeoCon Gold Award in the
Modular Carpet category.

On 8:

Space 8-4122: Wilkhahn takes home a Best of NeoCon Gold
Award for Ergonomic Seating and the Best of Competition Award too for the ON®
by Wilkhahn. Based on the concept of 3-D sitting, this highly engineered
ergonomic chair offers the usual bells and whistles found in a fully
functioning chair, and is also easily taken apart and reassembled in the field,
all at an impressive price point. The Wilkhahn brand has struggled in the North
American market and is now attempting to reintroduce itself. This puts it off
to a good start.

On 6:

Showroom 635: Off the beaten path but worth the journey was
the new wool carpet tile collection Innuendo at Tai Ping carpets.

On 3:

Showroom 387: HBF has paired up with prolific Spanish
designer Mario Ruiz once again, resulting in the elegant and technologically
advanced Linea Conference Series, which took a Best of NeoCon Silver Award in
the Conference Room Furniture category. Ruiz is a designer to watch, and HBF is
smart to have added him to their impressive list of high profile design
partners over the years. It should be noted that the showroom itself, while
always stunning, was particularly inspiring this year thanks to Michael
Vanderbyl’s considerable talents selecting colors and materials for the
products on display.

Showroom 391: Suzanne Tick and Terry Mowers have done
wonderful things to update Tandus Flooring's  Powerbond, a decades-old flooring product
that is a hybrid between resilient flooring and carpet. It defies exact
classification, but won a Best of NeoCon Gold Award in the Resilient Flooring
category. The new designs are uplifting, while Powerbond stays firmly rooted as
a serious high performance product.

Showroom 3-115: This year at NeoCon it was the battle of the
conference furniture, and Davis eeked out the Best of NeoCon Gold Award for the
SITE Collection. Honestly, the win couldn’t have gone to two nicer guys.
California-based designers Jess Sorel and Otto Williams, who have successfully
collaborated since their earlier days at Metro. This line is a stunning and
highly flexible series with serious residential references—Sorel and Williams
are known for product designs that enhance work-life balance. Site also
represents a departure from Davis’ typical strategy of bringing sleek and
highly engineered European designs to America. Kudos to the company for
believing in SITE and bringing it to market.

Also of note:

Showroom 1048: Teknion Conflux LED Lighting, designed by
Carl Magnusson

Showroom 10-167: Shaw, everything,

Showroom 321: Geiger is back in the Mart (!), sharing space
with parent company Herman Miller

Showroom 351: Humanscale, Humanair Personal Zone Air
Purifier and Element II LED task lamp

Showroom 353: Keilhauer, Cahoots

For a look complete look at the Best of NeoCon winners, go to

And visit to vote for your own favorites! Hurry!

I  hope everyone had a great show!

Jennifer Busch, Editor in Chief, Contract



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