R.D. Musser, III - President, Grand Hotel Mackinac Island - February 12, 2014
West Michigan furniture manufacturers are headed to Chicago this week for The National Exposition of Contract Furnishings, better known as NeoCon, the industry’s biggest design exposition and commercial interiors tradeshow in North America, which is being held at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart June 9-11.
NeoCon offers 1 million square feet of showroom and exposition space dedicated to commercial interiors and design. More than 40,000 architecture and design professionals are expected to attend the three-day event to check out the latest in fabric, furniture, flooring, interior building products, interior finishes, international partnerships and technology for commercial interior environments that include health care, hospitality, retail, environmental, government, educational and general workplaces.
This year West Michigan companies will be showing off a variety of products focused on creating collaborative atmospheres and individual choice options.
Izzy+ compared its showroom this year to a Gazelle Sports retail store, saying that one chair isn’t going to fit everyone just as one running shoe doesn’t work for every runner.
The company is bringing its newest seating products, the Wabi and Nikko chairs, along with some old favorites, to encourage the idea of choice and eliminate the one-size-fits-all mentality in the workplace.
Also popular this year are products and office systems that can easily be reconfigured from a collaborative space to a more “heads down” environment.
Studies are showing that employees are moving around the office a lot more, seeking out a variety of different spaces throughout their day to accommodate differing tasks.
“We really aren’t working in a static way anymore,” said Nancy Stryker, Haworth’s NeoCon project manager. “Technology has freed us up. It’s untethered more and more people, so people have more freedom and choice and they really demand that.”
Those spaces include heads down environments with a level of privacy, common spaces modeled after residential dwellings, hustle-and-bustle environments like a busy coffee shop or restaurant and everything in between.
Haworth worked with designer Patricia Urquiola, of Studio Urquiola, on Openest, a collection of lounge elements that when paired allow for the creation of a variety of spaces.
The company’s theme — create, collaborate and rejuvenate — reflects three key environments people are regularly searching for while at work.
“Patricia really wanted to get at the heart of this oxymoron where it’s open. People want this kind of space where they feel drawn to and comfortable and it’s inviting, but it’s also more of a nest where it creates a comfort zone for people, a space where you can kind of get away from things and have a little privacy,” Stryker said.
“It also comes with the idea of repurposing and reinvigorating spaces that were maybe neglected, because when these pieces are brought in people feel very drawn to them. They want to be in those spaces. So it helps to reinvigorate those spaces.”