Last week, NeoCon 2013 took place at The Merchandise Mart in Chicago. More than 40,000 attendees navigated the long hallways lined with showrooms and braved elevator lines several layers deep to check out the newest offerings in the commercial furnishings industry. The Contract staff was among them, and we noticed several repeated themes, with plenty of overlap between them.
Color of the year: fuchsia
While lime green was the accent color of choice in the past, this year it was all about fuchsia—not pink, but a particularly punchy shade that is somewhere between red and purple. The color proves fitting for not only hospitality and educational settings, but it also could be appropriate in certain office settings, particularly those for creative industries.
Felt felt everywhere
Felt first became popular for upholstering furniture in the 1950s, and it is seriously having another moment. One would be hard-pressed to find many showrooms throughout The Mart without some type of felt product on display. Not only does the acoustically efficient material cover chairs, sofas and even tables, it also materializes as wall hangings, panel products, and flooring. While gray is often the go-to color, many companies exhibited eye-popping felt shades, including orange, yellow, and of course, fuchsia.
C is for Collaboration, and Cell phone booths
We all have that annoying coworker who insists on making phone calls at top volume, even when discussing personal topics (no, we don’t care that your cat did that really cute thing the other day). As companies continue to grapple with the challenge of carving out space for individuals within open office plans, manufacturers have provided a plethora of solutions by introducing new desking and lounge systems that make the workplace a little more comfortable and, well, collaborative (are you tired of hearing that word yet?).
Manufacturers also offer new ways for workers to be alone, together. Last year BuzziSpace debuted the Buzzihood, a wall-mounted “phone booth,” and this year similar products abound at The Mart. Many are lined with felt. And sometimes even fuchsia felt. While most of the hooded or tube-like chairs and booths that we tested don’t really block much sound transmission, they do seem to improve acoustics for the one making the phone call—or at least provide a false sense of privacy. Sorry, but you’ll still overhear all the details about how Fluffy chased her own tail, again.