Chicago, IL -- NeoCon, held June 11to 13, 2018 at The Mart in Chicago, rang in a historic 50 years as the leading platform for commercial design, serving as an incubator and catalyst for the future of the industry. This year’s event further established itself as a launch pad for innovation and thought-leadership. Record attendance and increased volume over the duration of the show underscored exactly how important this annual gathering is for members of the industry to come together and share, learn and inspire one another.   

Breakthroughs in the fields of sustainability, materiality, integrated technology and acoustical performance were some of the top trends seen throughout the show. An overall commitment to a softer, more comfort-based approach to workspace design was evident. The movement was further solidified by exciting announcements including Herman Miller’s acquisition of contemporary Danish furniture brand, Hay and Steelcase and West Elm’s partnership—set to provide a more expansive array of workplace furniture. A marked yet diverse focus on wellbeing in the workplace also took center stage. From privacy solutions to biophilic design, workplace solutions exhibited a people-centric approach.   

NeoCon 50 also added 10 new permanent showrooms and 100 innovative 7thfloor exhibitors to its already robust line-up. Conference program attendance was strong thanks to thought-provoking marquee presentations featuring Art Gensler, Cheryl Durst, Nick Thompson, Cindy Allen, Robin Klehr Avia, Gisue Hariri, Lauren Rottet and Carol Ross Barney, as well as over 100 accredited seminar sessions. Dynamic installations, activations and interactive exhibits rounded out the show. Tuesday night’s The Future is Party, presented by Mohawk, was a high energy affair with more than 3000 guests celebrating NeoCon’s 50 years.   

The 50th edition also marked the launch of a new, aptly titled podcast, NeoConversations. It will serve as the voice of the industry throughout the year, featuring insight into new trends, design solutions and relevant, impactful issues.    

According to Byron Morton, VP Leasing, NeoCon Shows, “NeoCon 50 had a remarkable energy. The permanent showrooms, 7th floor exhibit hall and seminar spaces benefited from three solid days of traffic. In an increasingly digital world, these face-to-face meetings and meaningful interactions are not only essential, but imperative.”   

Designers, showrooms and exhibitors shared some of their observations:  

  • “We could tell from the energetic crowds at The Mart that the excitement of NeoCon was at an all-time high this year! We loved that there was such a focus on acoustic solutions—it’s an undervalued component when it comes to privacy, workplaces and open environments. We also noticed there were a lot of natural materials and finishes, a welcome return after the influx of the cold, industrial materials of the past few years.” - John Hopkins, Principal and Design Director, IA Interiors Architects’ Chicago office   
  • “This year’s NeoCon exhibited a fundamental shift in how we think about workplace design, the elements that we developed in the Steelcase showroom exhibited how surface, form and materiality combine to create and inspire the way we feel. As a result, we have a refreshed view of how design improves our lives.” - Joey Shimoda, FAIA, FIIDA, Shimoda Design Group   
  • “What a phenomenal Neocon 2018! We were thrilled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NeoCon and welcome many attendees to the reimagined Steelcase Chicago WorkLife experience. We found attendees were interested and engaged in how Steelcase and our partners demonstrated an ecosystem of spaces that enhances the employee experience. Our spaces showcased a diverse range of applications, aesthetics and price points which supports all of the places and ways people work today and we were delighted with the high traffic and positive reactions.” - Katie Pace, Spokeswoman, Steelcase