NEOCON: Celebrating 50 Years of Tomorrow's Design

Wondering what the office of the future looks like?

Next week, Neocon offers a preview as it celebrates a half-century of design at the world’s largest event for the commercial interiors industry in Chicago June 11-13.

More than 50,000 design professionals will gather at The Mart to view new products from 500 some companies, catch up with old friends and contacts, and learn about what the future of work holds. One notable attendee: Dick Resch, the only person to attend all 50 Neocon conferences.

In addition to showroom events, activations, displays, seminars, tours and workshops, the 2018 edition will feature added experiences and festivities for its milestone 50th year

A Storied History

Neocon hallways 1988

Neocon hallways 1988

Held annually for a half a century at The Mart in Chicago, NeoCon has been a harbinger of not only trends, but issues affecting design and the workplace.

Since its beginnings in the late 1960s, it has served as a launchpad for innovations that have influenced how we live and work. In the intervening decades, the U.S. office furniture industry has grown from roughly $830 million to an estimated $13.4 billion in 2017. (U.S. Dept of Commerce, Bureau of the Census and BIFMA).

The Mart in 1928

The Mart in 1928

Through the 1970s energy crisis, 2008 recession and political and economic upheaval, NeoCon has served as a platform for innovative products, new ideas, influential voices, and a vital meeting place for the industry.

Over time, design priorities have expanded to encompass versatility, inclusivity and corporate responsibility.

In recent decades, the workplace has been redefined by technology and startup culture, followed by a focus on wellness, sustainability and comfort. Technology and mobility continued to blur lines between work, home and life. Today, customization, materiality, and uniqueness rank among top design priorities.

Looking ahead, workplace design will continue to evolve, even as big data and smart technologies drive new modes of office planning. Human well-being is emerging as a new benchmark for design, as is inclusivity for people of all abilities, genders, and ages. No doubt eyes will continue to be on The Mart for thought leadership and predictions on what the world can expect next from human-focused design.

In honor of the milestone, NeoCon produced a retrospective highlighting major movements, milestones and products launched over the event’s five decades.

Seminars and Marquee presentations

NeoCon marquee presenters (from left) are Art Gensler, Cheryl Durst, Cindy Allen, Carol Ross Barney

In between showroom parties and incomparable networking is a broad lineup of keynote presentations and educational seminars, tours and workshops presented by thought leaders from a range of disciplines.

Five notable design influencers will headline the 2018 conference program presented in the NeoCon Theater, 19th Floor, at The Mart. Keynotes include:

Unanticipated Opportunities: A Conversation between Art Gensler and Cheryl Durst

Art Gensler, Founder, Gensler

Monday, June 11 at 8 am


She Said, She Said: Extraordinary Women in Design

Moderated by Cindy Allen, Editor-in-Chief, Interior Design

Monday, June 11 at 2pm


The Wired Future

Nick Thompson, Editor in Chief, Wired

Tuesday, June 12 at 8am


Future Cities-Creating Livable Environments

Carol Ross Barney, Founder and Design Principal, Ross Barney Architects

Wednesday, June 13 at 9:30am


New for 2017, “Icons @ NeoCon” is a special series of seminars headlined by five seasoned design and business experts: Lauren Rottet, Founding Principal and President of Rottet Studio; Cheryl Durst, Executive Vice President and CEO of IIDA; Suzanne Tick, Founder of Suzanne Tick Inc.; Carol Ross Barney, Founder and President of Ross Barney Architects; and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871.

A full listing is available here

Showrooms Events & Special Exhibits and Parties

Centerpiece of Neocon is always the opportunity to tour showrooms and enjoy the ever-popular showroom parties (Monday, June 11 from 5–7 pm; on floors 3, 10, and 11) as well as the 7th floor exhibit hall festivities (Tuesday, June 12 from 3–5 pm).

A full listing is available online.   

For a comprehensive list of events and awards programs, click here 

NeoCon is open to trade, media, C-Suite executives and other industry-related professionals. For more special features, showroom and exhibitor news, images and real-time information, follow NeoCon Shows on the following social media channels:Facebook (@NeoConShows), Twitter (@NeoCon_Shows), Instagram (@NeoCon_Shows) and Snapchat (@NeoConShows).



SNOWSOUND (7-5018) SNOWSOUND will be launching a new Snowsound-Fiber Product, “Si Sboccia” which means “to bloom” in Italian. It’s hand-made from our patented sound absorbing Snowsound-Fiber Textiles in Velvet. Designed by Moreno Ferrari, one of Italy’s most distinguished fashion designers, it offers a tactile perception very different than any typical acoustic panel in the industry. The various layers of the sound absorbing fabric folds offers a medium to trap the sound waves and mitigate echo in many different types of spaces.



POLARMOSS USA (7-2036) POLARMOSS, founded in 1985, is a Finnish company that is one of largest manufacturers and suppliers of dried and colored reindeer moss products in the world. POLARMOSS designs and manufactures handcrafted high-quality interior design products from colored and preserved reindeer moss. The company’s entire production chain is carefully handmade; from environmentally responsible handpicking of raw material, available in northern forests, to packing of Polarmoss Interior Design products for worldwide deliveries. POLARMOSS will be debuting “Polarmoss LAB” at NeoCon--a laboratory where customers can view the many various possibilities of the company’s moss and customized projects they offer.

Luceplan USA (7-3014) Luceplan is introducing its fifth acoustical lighting fixture, Farel, at NeoCon. Farel by Diego Sferrazza epitomizes the efforts of Luceplan to develop lamps that combine high-quality lighting, outstanding sound-absorption performance and refined design: an original suspension lamp created to improve the comfort of spaces, thanks to a constant focus on parameters of perception as well as aesthetic-functional factors.

Framery (7-7062) Sometimes the most productive thing to do is rest. During long, intensive workdays, NapQ comes to the rescue. The 5th and newest layout to the Framery Q line, NapQ’s sofa set can be easily transformed from a workspace into a comfortable bed; allowing one to recharge whenever necessary. Users need just to pull the switch to turn off the light, lean back on the soft pillows and dive underneath the warm blanket. NapQ will be on display at this year’s NeoCon. Attendees can experience the products at the Framery Oasis of Happiness on the 1st floor North Central Lobby and at Framery main stand #7-7062 on the 7th floor.

Mikomax Smart Office (7-10034)

Mikomax Smart Office will be featuring the new Hush Line of independent, mobile spaces equipped with the power module, lighting, and ventilation system. Debuting for the first time at NeoCon, Hush Work is the separate mobile space designed specifically for individual work. It is ideal for maximum privacy to focus more efficiently on work.

Silence Business Solutions (7-1102)

French manufacturer of acoustic and connected solutions since 2015, Silence Business Solutions aims to resolve noise pollution in open spaces. La Boîte à rêves (The Dream Box) offers users a recovery cocoon thanks to its revolutionary concept. Users will have the choice among twelve light and sound atmospheres and a 15 minute program designed for power-napping. The ideal duration of a power-nap is 15 to 20 minutes. This duration allows enough time to fall into a light sleep and remain there for at least 2 minutes. This duration can restore someone for a whole afternoon.

ZZILOUNGE (Floor 1, East Pass-Through)

BuzziLounge will offer a luxe reprieve with BuzziMe Low, a new lounge seat designed to encourage intimate conversations. Attendees will be able to recharge and catch up on emails in this quiet oasis under a sea of BuzziJet and BuzziProp acoustic pendant lights. The lights create a warm and comfortable sphere representative of BuzziSpace’s mission to creating happy and healthy workspaces.


The 7th floor Expo Hall will showcase an inspiring dose of NeoCon history. NeoCon partnered with legendary rug designer Edward Fields through the early 70s through the early 90s to create area rugs based on that year’s event poster. The rugs were displayed each year in The Mart’s South Lobby. Fourteen of these rugs, ranging from 1974 through 1992, are on display along the 7000 aisle of the floor. Edwards Fields famously coined the term “area rug” and considered rugs to be design elements and art objects all on their own, challenging the convention that rugs were merely decorative. He spoke of rugs as “the fifth wall”—art for your floor essentially. The Tai Ping Showroom on the 6th floor (Space 635) will offer more information on Edward Fields.  


Emeco presents 1 Inch Reclaimed by Jasper Morrison. The introduction affirms the melding of effortless design and sustainable materials. Floor 1 will offer attendees a chance to learn and explore more innovative ways to use consumer and industrial waste, along with environmentally responsible resources to create and build simple, timeless furniture that is made to last.  

OASIS OF HAPPINESS BY FRAMERY (Floor 1, North Central Corridor)

Framery joins NeoCon’s 50th edition celebration by launching its latest innovation in soundproof workspaces. The Oasis of Happiness will also present attendees with the chance to meet the team behind the world-leading soundproof meeting pods, experience the brand’s new products, and learn about the Framery way of increasing happiness at work. For more on Framery, the main stand is on the 7th floor, booth #7-7062.

ID LIVE (Grand Staircase at The Mart)

Interior Design will host ID Live—sponsored by Carnegie—for the third year in a row. Editor in Chief, Cindy Allen, will host designers and guests at the Rockwell-designed ID Live studio located on the Grand Staircase. The interviews will stream on Interior Design’s Facebook page and will also be projected on the Grand Staircase. Attendees can watch or tune in on Hours: Monday June 11 and Tuesday June 12, Noon to 1PM.  


The commercial interior design association will be connecting the design professions everywhere before and during NeoCon—IIDA is going mobile. An IIDA truck will be making the rounds. The latest happenings and IIDA’s location will be updated on @IIDA_HQ. The IIDA twitter feed will tweet contest details, information on customized giveaways, and exclusive opportunities for IIDA social media followers to be featured on their social media channels.  

JABBRRBOX: [Think. Create. Connect. ReCharge] Inside the Box (Floor 2, South Corridor)

Jabbrrbox will offer attendees the opportunity to experience their new “space as service” solution for public and semi-public applications, JabbrrX. The on-demand private workspace, which will be reservable in 15-min increments (up to 2 hours), will be located on the second floor adjacent to Marshall’s Landing, where it will remain permanently. Jabbrrbox will have an additional installation and presence at booth #7-3082, complete with a JabbrrLounge featuring Gunlocke and HBF Textiles.

GABRIEL DAWE, “PLEXUS C22,” SPONSORED BY MANNINGTON COMMERCIAL (Floor 1, North East Corridor, Starbucks Escalator)

Artist Gabriel Dawe is bringing an ethereal formation of color and light to The Mart’s North East Corridor with “Plexus C22,” sponsored by Mannington Commercial. Dawe’s architectural installation was created from miles of thread. Also on site will be a glimpse of the Moiré Collection—an innovative collection of modular plank and broadloom designed by Dawe in collaboration with Mannington Commercial. The Moiré Collection and Mannington’s new flooring collections will be on view in showroom 1039.


The editors of Metropolis will highlight the most important innovations in 20th century contract interior design in honor of NeoCon’s 50th edition with a retrospective video.  


Mohawk will demonstrate the transformative power of great flooring solutions with a colorful, dynamic installation of their Mega Art Collection and Color Balance modular carpet planks. In addition to the installation on the Kinzie lobby floor, Mohawk Group will showcase an innovative pop-up exhibition cube featuring more product details and an inset of Mega Art, Color Balance and Matuto Plus enhanced resilient tile. Mohawk Group will be in space 377.  

ZITTO BY MURAFLEX (Floor 1, North Lobby)

Muraflex™ is presenting its newest freestanding pod that provides an acoustically sound, structurally superior, and visually sharp space to think, meet, exchange and create. Murfalex’s design-savvy demountable glass partitions and partition systems are also available to view in their showroom 11-130.  

NOOKS ON PARADE! (Floor 7, 6000 Aisle)

Nook offers a place where small teams can meet or individuals can find focus—or just relax, have lunch, and take a breath without missing any of the show’s excitement. The wireless charging facilities are fully loaded with power. Nooks are available on the 6000 aisle. Nook’s designer will be at booth 7-5078.  

SNOWSOUND QUIET ZONES (Floor 7, Pass-Throughs)

Snow-goers are invited to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet on the 7th floor as they travel between the two main sections of the NeoCon Exhibit Hall, the 7th floor Snowsound Pass-Throughs. The acoustic retreats are designed with Snowsound Panels and Acoustic Textiles to offer an architecturally-inspired acoustic haven of tranquility. Snowsound's main booth at the show is booth 7-5018 on the 7th floor. The brand will offer an Acoustic Experience Room demonstration and a shot of Italian Espresso.