Welcome to a glimpse into the future of the commercial interior and design industry, as seen at NeoCon 2023. This year's design convention revealed a landscape reshaped by emerging technology, with shifts that span from conceptualizing design to implementing and living it. This fusion of tech and design is not just augmenting our creative processes; it's redefining the essence of spaces and how we interact with them. Five themes particularly resonated from our experience at NeoCon 2023, highlighting the evolving landscape of our industry: memorable spaces, authentic branding, affordable luxury, institutional focus, and sustainable practices. Technology and innovation are common threads throughout the experience.

Memorable Spaces at NeoCon 2023

Strolling down the enclosed halls of The Mart, I found a handful of memorable showrooms that inspired what our clients grapple with - creating experiential spaces. A few showrooms doubled as destinations, with flowing drinks and lounging spaces, transcending their traditional roles and providing a "getaway" feel. Take the Turf showroom, for instance. Winner of the IIDA Large Showroom and Best In Show Awards, the space was experiential for all the senses. Their beautiful cobalt blue and sea foam green meditation room was a sight to behold. 

Companies are on a quest to reignite office appeal. Turf took that to heart by showing us how to create a powerful space that drew you in...and kept you there!  The art lies in shaping spaces to work as destinations, not mere workplaces. Hopefully, we see more of this from manufacturers next year. 

Authenticity & Brands Amplifying Voices

Authenticity underscored the narrative of several brands, as they showcased designs that resonated with their core identity.  Stepping away from The Mart and heading to Fulton Market, MillerKnoll showcased how each of its brands brought a unique narrative forward. Florence Knoll, a true believer that "Good Design is Good Business," crafted furniture to enhance design and architecture. This spirit resonated through Knoll's showroom. The Herman Miller showroom was rich and colorful, pulling forward elements from their graphic design archive to tell their story. 

Balancing High Design with Value

NeoCon 2023 witnessed an array of designs that elegantly married aesthetics with value, signaling a trend toward high-design pieces that are accessible to a broader audience. The economic climate has ushered in an era of balancing luxe design aspirations with budget realities. Constraints can breed creativity, and many exhibitors displayed value-based products adaptable to various spaces. 

Institutional Spaces & Human-Centric Design

A growing focus on designing institutional spaces like hospitals and schools was prominent at NeoCon 2023. A shift towards human-centric designs that foster healing and encourage learning was apparent, with brands showcasing pieces that meld functionality with comfort. It's exciting to see these industries pushing boundaries, crafting spaces that inspire and foster well-being.

Extremis incorporated a variety of seating styles, heights, and layouts in their unique showroom. Coupled with plants and turf, they brought forward elements of nature and new ways to imagine where and how work (and learning) takes place.  

Emphasis on Sustainable Practices

An encouraging trend was the spotlight on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) factors. Brands are aligning their design philosophies with these principles, signaling a collective commitment toward creating a sustainable future. This is evident in their willingness to share their stewardship stories, demonstrating how research and design go hand in hand to shape a more sustainable future. 

The Sandler Seating Cala Chair Collection is one such product. Winner of the METROPOLISlikes award, the seats and backs are made from 3D-printed recycled plastics or polypropylene in a grid-like mesh. The unique line is available in a variety of configurations and colors, and stands out as a pioneer of sustainability. 

Emerging Technology Shaping the Industry

Walking through the halls of The Mart and the open space of Fulton Market, sprinkles of emerging technology could be found throughout. From immersive virtual reality experiences, as seen with KiSP to AI-powered solutions, like FOLIO's Style Guide,  technology is pushing the boundaries of creativity. FOLIO is a technology tool that lets service providers engage with their clients in a digital way, aligning on project goals, high-level budgets, and aesthetics, all before showing them a piece of furniture. FOLIO also leverages emerging technology by using AI-generated images to help clients visualize their space. In our next blog series, we will explore the different technology tools available to power your workflow and engage with your clients. We hope to see more of this at NeoCon next year!

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