It turns out NeoCon 2016 in Chicago had nothing to do with the Matrix films. Sorry Keanu fans, it's not that kind of "Neo." For the rest of us though, the event this past June was the next best thing—a window into the future of interior design. The window itself was rather large, 350,000 square feet to be exact. Our team (Heather, Monica and Rebecca) put on their Fitbits and walked every step for you. They noticed some trends you should know about when making any office design or furniture decisions, or when evaluating the furniture you currently have.
There’s a reason you think up your best ideas in the shower. You’re comfortable. The relaxation brought on by unwinding releases dopamine, which enables you think without any pressure. While we didn’t see any furniture pieces that allow you to work at your desk while taking a hot shower, we noticed a rather consistent trend of comfortable home-esque furniture infiltrating the corporate environment. If you look hard enough, you could probably find a camp of people who believe the workplace should be uncomfortable. Thankfully, none of them were invited to NeoCon. Pieces like Davis’s Ginkgo Low Back Lounge were awarded for their ability to balance comfort with performance. Rather than serving as a distraction or taking away from one’s ability to do their job, casual and comfortable pieces show benefits when it comes to being productive and creative.
"casual and comfortable pieces show benefits when it comes to being productive and creative"
1999’s Office Space became a cult classic because it touched on themes almost any age group could understand. We can all relate with adults working in isolated cubicle farms without enough space being told “Uh...yeah, I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday.” We knew, even in our adolescence, we did not want to end up in an office like that. Thankfully, business leaders have begun paying attention to the far-more-important-than-we-initially-thought arenas of proximity and shared space. Open work layouts have enabled offices to become places people are actually excited to use. Today’s interior designers put together pieces that enable us to enjoy open layouts with enough privacy so we won't become easily distracted from important work. Pieces like DeskMaker’s Hover and Qove by OFS Brands have created a space within a space, giving life to the office layout while enabling the right kind of privacy and enclosures. Now where is my red Swingline stapler?
Recent shifts in the business climate have required us to take a more flexible approach to our careers. It’s no longer about what someone studied in college, but what new skills they have taught themselves since then. Now your barista makes your coffee, runs your credit card, and helps you diversify your investment portfolio. We don't necessarily recommend that, but we do see an increased need for well-rounded people. This trend has thankfully been coupled with flexible and intuitive furniture.
You’ve certainly seen desks that are for seated workers one moment but quickly adjust to accommodate a standing employee. We’re happy to report this the next era of office pieces has taken mobility and versatility one step further. Vitra’s Hack desk lets you feng shui the shiitake mushrooms out of your office. The surprisingly sturdy and chic desk not only alternates between seated and standing positions, but it also easily folds so you can move it to another area.
This year's event was a great experience that left us all better informed about the future of the workplace. We will be back next year and will keep you in the loop. If your office is in need of an update, or if you are interested in implementing any of these trends from Neocon 2016, we're here to help!
A special thanks to our magnificent McCoy-Rockford A&D Liaisons for their contributions to this article:
Rebecca Elliot in Austin, and Heather Rogers and Monica Ward in Houston.