Posts tagged with "NeoCon":

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At NeoCon 2018, the newest commercial furniture was more residential than ever

Here we present a selection of highlights from this year’s NeoCon furniture fair at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. This year, contract furniture was comfort-driven and aesthetically-inclined, erring on the side of residential. From a sensory deprivation nap pod to custom CNC-cut geometric flooring, we leave you with some of our favorite discoveries. Inside Shapes Shaw Contract This purveyor of commercial flooring collaborated with Stockholm-based design firm Form Us With Love on an interchangeable flooring solution. With four geometric shapes and 12 colors, the carpet tiles fit together like puzzle pieces. To visualize all the possible iterations, the interactive platform allows users to digitally design and rearrange layouts. Base High Table Muuto Finnish designer Mika Tolvanen designed a thin aluminum-framed high-top work table in ode to Scandinavian wooden tables of the 1950s (e.g. Alvar Aalto’s nesting tables or Hans Wegner’s coffee tables). Available in two standard widths and in two heights respectively, each option is suitable for co-working, impromptu meetings, and a worktop away from your desk. Park by Norm Architects AllSteel The Copenhagen-based firm Norm Architects designed a collection of seating, tables, storage and accessories for social places in the workplace. The collection includes a wheeled easel and high-low tables, and the varying heights and mobility of all the elements allow for multiple gatherings and simultaneous meetings. La Boîte à rêves Silence Business Solutions Aptly dubbed, La Boîte à rêves (The Dream Box) is a timber-clad cocoon outfitted with a touch screen-controlled audiosensory environment. Resting on a memory foam mattress and an ergonomic pillow, haggard employees can “recharge” after a 15-minute light-and-sound show in the luminous audioscape. Clipper Steelcase Visual distractions can be overstimulating. As a solution, this free-standing folding screen easily clips into a partition. It is available in four sizes to create both individual and group enclosures.   Stool-Tool Vitra Combining the form of a chair and table, this step-like platform accommodates different seating heights and arrangements, as well as storage and worktop uses. Stackable and lightweight, this colorful plastic hybrid is outfitted with a cut-out handle for increased mobility.

[Sponsored] Bison IP Manufactured in the USA, Bison pedestals offer the design flexibility to create beautiful rooftop decks. Visit us at AIA Booth 4344!

NeoCon 2018

The world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial design industry, NeoCon 50, will take place from June 11-13, 2018 at The Mart in Chicago. Now in its 50th edition, we wanted to make sure the exciting trade event was on your radar.
From product launches, 4 marquee presentations100+ CEU seminars, and other special events, the show is a must-attend for the industry’s top professionals.
Since its launch in 1969, NeoCon has evolved into an international design hub that brings together more than 50,000 professionals for networking opportunities as well as dynamic and diverse learning experiences. Its powerful conference program is at the forefront of thought leadership, delivering distinguished speakers, ideas and innovations that are shaping the global landscape of workplace, healthcare, hospitality, government, education, retail and more. 
Show photos from last year are available in high-res here.
More information can be found at
TICKETSNeoCon is open to trade, media, C-Suite executives and other industry-related professionals. The redesigned NeoCon 2018 website and complimentary registration is now live at On-site registration: $40Marquee/Keynote presentations: Free. CEU seminar details and registration will be available March 6. 
CONNECT: Facebook (@NeoConShows)Twitter (@NeoCon_Shows), and Instagram (@NeoCon_Shows), and use the hashtag #NeoCon50 
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Designing an office chair that doesn’t “murder architecture”

Architecture and design studio Barber & Osgerby recently spent over four years working with Vitra to design the Pacific Chair, an office chair “for the next generation,” or as Jay Osgerby put it, “a chair that won’t cause a panic attack.” It debuted at this year's Neocon to much fanfare. While it's yet to be confirmed, rumor has it that Foster + Partners already ordered the Pacific Chair for its San Francisco office. Osgerby discussed the involved process with managing editor Olivia Martin. The Architect’s Newspaper: Tell me a little bit about the design evolution for the Pacific Chair. Jay Osgerby: It started four years ago. The idea was to design a “checklist chair”—something that would check all the boxes big corporations require of a chair. We had never done a chair like that before and were incredibly naive. We said, “awesome, great, that shouldn’t be too complicated”… then we started and realized it was fantastically complicated. We quickly realized why all these office chairs look like machines, and in some cases like a dentist chair. We wanted to create something calm and appealing to architects; maybe something that you would want to have at home. We wanted something relaxing, something that wouldn’t give you a panic attack but would still perform. To find the answers to those requirements was really hard. One of the ways we started to approach the project was from a mechanical point of view. We placed the main mechanism and controls in the bottom of the seat. This mechanism responds to the user’s weight, so whether you are heavy or light, you’ll have the same experience sitting in the chair, which eliminates the need for a lot of levers. The other big breakthrough was to get rid of the arm structure so that it also emerges from the seat. Normally the arms come in from the side of you and this creates extra bulk. With each step and each iteration, we wanted to clean it up, to make it more discreet and more simple. So that’s how the design evolved really from briefing to being a reductive piece, something that’s essential. With open offices, it’s no longer about creating this territorial chair for one person, but a chair that can adapt to any user. The office space is constantly evolving. Now it’s all about open plan, sit-stand desks, alternative workspaces, etc. Did you think about these changes when designing the chair? The traditional office is going the way of the dining room. Coworking spaces are killing the office. It’s not bad, but I think there are issues with it. We’d seen these shifting workplace trends in our architecture practice: The freedom that technology has brought us creates a need to make furniture that works in all sorts of different environments. I spend a lot of time in the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch and the lobby is packed full with people working and spending a fortune on really expensive coffee in order to have colleagues for a day. The freelance economy is really what we were thinking of because the stereotypical office chair looks so alien in those environments. We wanted to create a chair that can sit in any of these places as well as Bank of America. What’s amazing about that is that the Pacific Chair has been so widely accepted—it’s in Norman Foster’s office in San Francisco, for example. How does your background in architecture inform making these types of products? Well, we are not qualified architects but we both studied architecture and that enabled us to appreciate how objects are in space. Specifically, an interior site gave us the context and the aesthetic judgment to make something calm. Architects all know how hard it is to spec something that doesn’t murder your project. You spend four to five years on a project, then you put in the office chairs and it creates chaos because the chairs are rarely seen in isolation, they are seen en masse, which destroys the architecture. Our architectural sensibility told us to create something that enhances the space.
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Can't miss products from this year's NeoCon

Another year, another NeoCon—the annual design expo that showcases the innovation, creativity, and reimagination of how we will live and work. NeoCon 2017 boasted a higher attendance than last year—by over 7 percent—and according to Byron Morton, vice president of leasing for the Merchandise Mart Properties, this was a growth both in terms of registered attendance and the uniqueness of its attendees, as nearly 20 percent of the attendees were corporate end users. These numbers aren’t surprising; has any other space changed as much as the workplace in the past five years? This year’s colors waxed largely neutral in shades of ash, taupe, beige, and light sepia, and large block patterns took precedence over the detailed textiles of yesteryear. But nuance is everything: Wolf-Gordon’s Infinite Neutral, for instance, created a fabric that appeared gray but was spangled with nearly 30 shades of bold color in its warp and weft to create depth, and DesignTex’s Acoustic Drapery collection takes textiles even further by making it acoustic-friendly—promising to let light in and keep sound out. While displays of customizable desks for the workspace were predictably plenty, so were their insistence on concealing levers, widgets, and wires in order give furniture an organic appearance despite tech-savvy designs. Herman Miller’s height adjustable desk “Live OS” (created in partnership with designer Yves Behar) and Knoll’s “Universal Height-Adjustable Table” both were customizable, wooden desks smart enough to collect user data to remember preferences and sense movement. This extended beyond the desk as well: the Vitra Pacific chair by Barber & Ogersby, for example, automatically adjusts to the sitter’s weight and position with very minimal manual adjustment. Many brands at Neocon continued to straddle the lines between the personal and the professional, collaborative and private, indoor and outdoor. The most explicit trend this year was reversal: Returning toward privacy and controlling the collaborative, open workspace by offering solutions to create seclusion. This, among other things, created an industry-wide pivot back to the phone booth: sound-muffling booths by Jabbrrbox and Framery were two examples of spaces designed to carve privacy in the noisy, open workspace. A hyperawareness of the speed of innovation to come was also central—from apps that control movement and send haptic buzzes to the user like Herman Miller’s Live OS, to DIRTT’s mixed-reality goggles featuring a custom-designed 3-D program that helps designers and architects envision partially-virtual interior spaces. Here are just a few standout products and highlights from the show: Impressions, An Acoustical Solution Knoll Six classic KnollTextiles patterns are impressed onto an ultra-thin tile, with each tile wrapped in 100 percent polyester. The tiles slide onto a Z-clip rail system, which offers a consistent architectural base for creating a tiled wall. Tiles are available in 16 colors, including warm and cool gray, as well as more bold, bright colors. Different levels of impression add dimension and texture to the tiles turning walls into sculptural surfaces. The Universal Height-Adjustable Screen Ki The Universal Height-Adjustable Screen can be easily affixed to a work surface or table, allowing employees the freedom to position themselves in sitting or standing configurations. Users can change their work setting by pulling up for privacy or pushing down for collaboration. Screens come in acoustic, tackable PET felt and opaque acrylic in a variety of colors. Poema Koleksiyon Koleksiyon collaborated with HOK and Studio Kairos to develop its new, flexible collection. Although the HOK pieces will debut later this year, Studio Kairos’s Poema sofa design for alternative workplace settings was a standout. The seating’s low height and worktop elements replace standard-height chairs and tables, creating a more space for meetings and creative teamwork sessions and collaborations.  Alphabet Sheer and Stars Sheer by Alexander Girard Maharam Maharam will reintroduce two iconic Alexander Girard designs—originally wall coverings—that will now be available as window covering applications. This geometrically patterned drapery underwent an industrial silk screen process in order to be reimagined as a “burnout drapery”— a fabric with dissolved fibers that give the entire material a semi-transparent effect. Live OS sit/stand desk Herman Miller The Live OS sit/stand desk includes an app and dashboard to offer data-based insights in the workplace. With the launch of Live OS, Herman Miller extends its traditional product offering to include this subscription-based service. Live OS will connect Herman Miller furnishings, including sit-to-stand and fixed height desks. Either when first installed, or retrofitted later, Live desks are equipped with sensors that are continuously connected to the cloud using a secure cellular network. The sit-to-stand desk remembers preferred postures. If an individual chooses to receive reminders, the desk control will light up and vibrate, reminding them to switch positions. QuickStand Eco Humanscale QuickStand can sit on any desktop and the height-adjustable work surface arrives ready to use. QuickStand Eco features a self-locking mechanism and is designed to accommodate a variety of heights and can support single or dual monitors up to 35 pounds in weight. Xorel Artform Carnegie Carnegie is introducing three new textile panels that boast sound-absorbing capabilities. New 3-D panel options are also available in several shapes, including the classic Waveline and Hex as well as Diamond and Square shapes. These can be used alongside existing shapes to create dimensional wall or ceiling installations. Casper Cloaking Technology Designtex Casper™ Cloaking Technology by Designtex is an architectural film for glass walls that obscures digital screens to outside view. It acts as a smart shield to ensure data privacy. A passerby will see nothing but black screens as they go by a conference room full of them—whether in use or not. Metrik Chair Wilkhahn Wilkhahn’s cantilever chair has a monolithic look—the chair’s lines, volume, and defined surfaces form a shape that integrates the armrests with a tubular steel frame.
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John Ronan announced as Neocon keynote speaker

NeoCon, the international interiors conference held each year in Chicago, has announced architect John Ronan as one of its keynote speaker. Ariana Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, and Jessica Green, founding director of the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center, have also been named as keynote speakers. As the conference is heavily attended by architects and designers, it is not uncommon for noted architects to give keynote addresses. John Ronan is the head of the Chicago-based John Ronan Architects. His talk will address the prompt put forward by NeoCon, “How can a better tomorrow be achieved, one with renewable cities and more efficient and responsive building?” Ronan is particularly appropriate for this topic as the forthcoming Ed Kaplan Family Institute of Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, designed by Ronan, features a light and temperature responsive ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene) foil cushion facade. The inflated cloud-like skin will regulate heat gain and loss through a movable pneumatic diaphragm system. When completed, it will be the first of its kind in the United States. Jessica Green’s Biology and the Built Environment Center works with architects and engineers to advance the public understanding of the microbial world and its potential to affect urban design. Green envisions a future in which urban design and architecture are designed as part of a complex ecosystem which includes microbes as an important factor in human well-being. Along with the three keynote addresses, NeoCon will include nearly 100 CEU certified seminars and talks, over its three days. NeoCon is held on four floors of the Merchandise Mart along the Chicago River from June 12th through June 14th. Each year the conference includes exhibits ranging from interior building products and materials to furniture and technology.
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The biggest hits from NeoCon

This year's Neocon had a lot of standouts. There were big names with new design collaborations and some up-and-coming designers that really stood out. Here are a few of our favorites from The Mart in Chicago. Brooklyn-based Uhuru made the leap to contract furniture with their very first collection dubbed Essentials Workplace. The brand's dedication to craftsmanship and material sensibility is apparent in the new line that offers industrial-yet-modern pieces that can be incorporated into a variety of different office styles. Allsteel showed a lot of great options for the evolving workplace using fresh and bright textiles, including Parallel (shown above) which is designed with wide arm rests to allow for informal, relaxed meeting places. A manufacturer of innovative glass and resin architectural materials, Sensitile debuted Celeste, a fully customizable backlit canvas. Either LED panel lights, projection light, or daylight can be used to emphasize the the etched glass patterns that appear to be infinite.
    Tarkett debuted a collection of luxury vinyl tile collections from a group of very impressive designers including Suzanne Tick, 2X4, D.B. Kim, K&Co, and Sagmeister & Walsh. The products ranged from subtle-yet-beautiful ombre wood-look tiles to all out in-your-face florals that faded into colorful pixels. In a match made in heaven, Scholten & Baijins has designed a serenely beautiful collection of graphic gradient patterns for Skyline Design. Its subtle patterns, which can be arranged in multiple ways to allow more light or more privacy, are paired with a curated color palette that look great as a whole. One brand that really stood out in terms of innovation was DIRTT, which stands for "doing it right this time." Not only can they build practically anything designers and architects can dream up, they can do it in a very short amount of time. They have also pioneered new virtual reality technology that allows users to edit 3-D models in real time, as well as being able to physically walk inside these digital models. The Conexus lounge chair by HBF, designed by Michael Vanderbly, maintains the craftsmanship and style of luxury residential furniture alongside ultra-durable materials that would suit practically any hotel lobby, upscale retail store, or office reception area. In addition, they also debuted a striking collection of textiles designed by European designer Christian Müller. Other impressive textiles include Carnegie's Alunet, an open-neat weave that controls heat and glare with maximum transparency, and Reflectacoustic, an innovative design that controls sounds as well as delivering heat and glare reduction through yarn, weaving, and metalized backing technology.
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Product>Neocon Preview

Naps and jungle gyms. It may sound like preschool, but this is what the future of offices and public spaces looks like. Check out these options—plus some more exciting products at Neocon 2016. 

Querkus Hardwoods

Wire brushing and patented “saw effect” scratching options give this sustainable product, which combines real oak veneer with high quality MDF panels, a unique level of customization in terms of look, budget, and interior applications.

Float Clarus Glassboards

With concealed mounting hardware and nearly flush lines, the float whiteboard can easily be added to a conference room or collaborative space. Any marker can be used on the surface and will clean up easily without leaving any marks.

Oblivion Koleksiyon

Oblivion allows for a completely customizable working space—perfect for creating individual stations in large open floor plans. Each cylindrical office, from size and height to interior shelving and finishes, is tailored to each customer’s need.

BuzziJungle BuzziSpace

Interior architect and furniture designer Jonas Van Put creates furniture and art installations with steel that challenge social norms and attempt to change the way people interact. This funky work-lounge offers a playful alternative to normal informal meeting spaces.

QuickStand Lite Humanscale

The QuickStand Lite is the newest addition to Humanscale’s line of sit-stand equipment. The moveable platform features an innovative counterbalance mechanism for easy transition between postures that can be attached to any existing desk. 

Energypod Metronaps

The result of years of research, this private slumber chamber is designed to create the ideal space for short snoozes to improve productivity. The contour of the chair takes pressure off of the cardiac system, while i20 technology allows nappers to start a 20-minute sleep cycle with specially devised rhythms that play through built-in speakers.

Sanna by Pablo Teknion

A special collaboration between lighting designer Pablo and Teknion, Sanna is meant to evoke a softness and warmth. The lamp is composed of a steel base, heather felt, a polycarbonate shade, and a high-output LED with a chip on board light engine.

B-Free Steelcase

B-Free is a full range of completely modular furniture that adapts to the ever-changing workplace. There are a variety of seating options that can be combined with desks, tables, screens, and charging stations to create a multitude of different spaces to allow for collaboration and conversation.

LED Cylinders CSL Lighting

Offered in 20 colorful finishes, CSL® (Creative Systems Lighting)’s sleek LED Cylinders pack an impressive LED punch. They are 90% efficient, 0.99 power factor, and UL/C-UL listed.

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Product> Contract Furnishings & Materials: Six picks from this year's NeoCon

As thinking on workplace design continues to evolve—should we stand or sit? Collaborate or isolate? Specialize or multi-task?—the need for comfortable, well organized, and aesthetic environments remains unquestioned. Here are a few items from NeoCon 2014 that caught our attention. Soto II Tools Steelcase A collection of multi-functional organizers leverages the limited desktop space of the modern office. Includes monitor bridge, shelves, and USB hub. Dance 3Form Bent wire courses across the interlayer of this resin panel, part of the new Full Circle collection. Handcrafted by artisans in Senegal. Overlay, Nexus Collection Knoll Textiles Despite its textured appearance, this pattern is a flat print. The design was developed using hand-modified, randomizing software. In eight colorways; 54-inch repeat. Designed by Kari Pei. Breaking Form Mohawk Group Tessellated geometric patterns that can be configured in numerous ways are offered in a durable nylon 12-inch-by-36-inch plank format. Designed by Mac Stopa, Massive Design. M4 Executive Chair Sokoa Back, seat, and headrest are 100-percent mesh, providing a responsive, custom seating experience. Also offered in manager, operator, and conference models. Designed in collaboration with Martin Ballendat. IN FORm AV Video Conferencing Suite Innovant This portable, self-contained set-up affords efficient installation of video conferencing facilities, particularly in open-plan locations. Power cables run inside the legs of the tables.
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Product> Finds from the Floor at NeoCon East 2013

The 11th edition of NeoCon East, the sister show to Chicago's summer contract furniture fair, was held October 16 and 17. Despite the government shutdown that legally prevented some GSA employees from attending,  more than 7,000 visitors attended the show at Baltimore's Convention Center to peruse the wares of over 250 exhibitors. Keynote addresses from Michael Graves—who launched a new collection of textiles with cf stinson—and Suzanne Tick were augmented with ongoing educational seminars. Tonic Watson Designed in collaboration with San Francisco–based industrial design firm Mike & Maaike, the freestanding benching system (above) is designed with steel and MDF for both durability and flexibility. A center deck can support video and computer monitors, storage, and LED lamps with a concealed four-circuit, eight-wire raceway. Vistas cf stinson New at NeoCon East, the Vistas collection of upholstery and privacy curtains is Michael Graves' third collection with cf stinson. Six unique patterns render abstractions of the natural environment in soothing blue and green tones. Line Davis Part of the Elements accessories collection, Line is a flush-mounted vertical storage component designed by Apartment 8. A slim, recessed stainless steel bar folds down from the top of the beam, with additional hanging storage on three square knobs in vertical succession below. Line comes in 12 vibrant colors, as well as natural oak or walnut. Diffrient Smart Humanscale Designed by the late Niels Diffrient, the eponymous Smart task chair features ergonomic comforts like Humanscale's patented weight-sensitive recline mechanism that automatically adjusts to the weight and height of the sitter. Three panels of proprietary Form-Sensing Mesh adjust to various body sizes, and armrests are attached to the seat back, as opposed to the seat pan, to echo the chair's angle of recline sans additional adjustment. PolyChair Kimball Office A mesh back and seat on the PolyChair provide maximum user comfort and stacking capabilities—30 high on a dolly and 10 on the ground. Available in five different colors, the polished chrome sled base also features black plastic tabs for ganging. Focal Point OFS Available in a variety of sizes, configurations, and color combinations, Focal Point is a power-integrated seating solution for individual work and break-out group sessions. The angle of the back supports lounging posture, while the exaggerated wings provide a sense of user privacy. An optional 6-inch arm is sized for tablet usage at a table-top height. I.D. Freedom Tarkett New at NeoCon East, the line of luxury vinyl planks and tiles comes in 90 SKUs of natural looks, from bamboo to sandstone to steel. Custom shapes can also be specified from Tarkett's Alabama production facility. The collection contains 53 percent pre-consumer recycled content and is FloorScore certified to contribute to healthy indoor air quality. Cork Wolf-Gordon Sourced from the bark of living quercus suber trees, the sustainable upholstery material is naturally stain and water resistant. Wolf-Gordon's cork textiles exceed 100,000 double rubs and come in four natural colors.
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Q+A> Todd Oldham and Designtex Revive the Wildlife Delights of Charley Harper

At the NeoCon contract furnishings trade show in June, AN executive editor Alan G. Brake sat down with Todd Oldham to discuss the collection of wall coverings he developed for Designtex adapting the work of Charley Harper. Harper is arguably best known as an illustrator, but Oldham is working with the Charley Harper Studio to broaden Harper’s reputation and create new products using his menagerie of images of flora and fauna. A versatile designer of fashion, home furnishings, books, and objects, Oldham has a special interest in reviving midcentury designers and he previously worked with the Alexander Girard archive. AN: Tell us about your interest in Charley Harper. Todd Oldham: I had the great pleasure of knowing Mr. Harper for the last five years of his life. He was an amazing, magical man. I came to know his work when I was a kid. He did the illustrations for a book called the Golden Book of Biology, which was my biology text book in school.  I loved it. So many years later  I reconnected things and found him and forced my way in—he was very gracious about it So you were a design stalker. Yes, I was a design stalker. I don’t do that very often, but I’m in awe of Charley. It’s a dangerous thing to meet your heroes, but not in this case. It was wonderful. What about his work drew you to him, beginning all those years ago? The things that drew me to his work when I was five are the same things that I love now, which is his ability to communicate complex information to the most…I don’t want to say simplest form because that suggests it’s diminished, which it’s not…he was able to boil something down to the zeitgeist and never lose one morsel of it. It’s really something. How did the collection come together? Well, Susan Lyons is now the big cheese over here at Designtex, and I’d worked with her before on a project on Alexander Girard when she was at HermanMiller, so when this opportunity came up, we always wanted to try to find a partner to bring his work to life in a new way. We’re very excited about this opportunity. We are always true to Charley’s designs. A lot of times when you are working with other designers, the Eames or Girard, you have a lot of objects you can bring forward. In Charley’s case, he was an artist, so you only have flat things, so making him live in the world in another way, you have to make sure they still represent Charley and what he was about. This medium with Designtex was just perfect. We’re sitting here by the ladybugs, and ladybugs were always very dear to Charley, I think because of their graphic quality. In the early 1970s a Chinese beetle came over—and was known as the orange ladybug—it became a garden pest, Charley was very upset because his beloved creature was being maligned, so he always said, these are the bugs that bug no one, so the ladybug was always very near and dear to him. This was actually painted on the outside of his house in the early 60s and it remained there until weather took it off. It was replaced in the early 1990s. The mosaic that we walked past is an exact replica of the one that was done in the federal building in Cincinnati. It done was in one inch tiles, either whole tiles or bifurcated, and sometimes you’ll see the extensions—either the legs or antennae—were done in glass or plexi-glass inserted into the grout. In a repeatable image it had to be moved around a little bit, but all the colors, all the forms, the scale are all exact. Why was Designtex the right company to make these wall coverings? They’re coming at it from the right place, a very thoughtful place. They’re also trying to make the most conscious decisions about the manufacturing that they can. Charley was an early ecologist. He did amazing bumper stickers in the late 60s that said, “You otter care about water,” and it had a little otter on it. These things were very important for him. Since we represent the estate, going against what was important to him would be blasphemous. Are there other treasures in the estate that will have other lives in future collections? With Charley, they’re all treasures. There is no bad work, no off work. It’s just stunning throughout. Our biggest obstacle was editing it down. I like where we landed with this project, but this is just a sneak preview of what’s to come. This tile-based mural is one of my favorites. It’s very unusual that it’s in a Federal Building. It’s not easy to get access, so I begged and begged for hours. It’s a in a public space but in a building you can’t get into. It’s amazing. It’s over 50 feet of non-repeating images. There’s another that’s based on Charley’s representation of birch bark. Charley had this amazing sort of cubist take on birch bark. That reminds me of your work. My color scheme has been fully informed by Charley, way before I ever knew why. I like those odd colors, the printing techniques. We’re really excited to be debuting with these wall coverings, which are durable enough for healthcare applications. Wouldn’t it be nice to be recovering and wakeup under one of Charley’s ladybugs? Do you have any other archival projects in the works, after Girard and Harper? I do, but I can’t talk about it yet. It’s not a designer, it’s a photographer. But I can’t say just yet.
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NeoCon Taken by “Force”


Wolf-Gordon’s “Force of Nature” spirals through Chicago’s Merchandise Mart during NeoCon 2013.

Based on the success of Wolf-Gordon’s inaugural NeoCon installation in 2012, chief creative officer Marybeth Shaw commissioned yet another show-stopping design piece for 2013. With the working title “Forces of Nature,” she turned once again to New York City–based design studio karlssonwilker and Brooklyn-based design-build collaborative The Guild to create a sculpture that would showcase the breadth of the company’s textiles and wall coverings. “The title ended up being quite appropriate to the final form, as the sculpture is a geometric construct with all of the resulting physical forces that might spin it out of the Mart’s ‘town square,’” Shaw recently told AN. Karlssonwilker initially conceived of a kinetic sculpture, but Shaw wanted a large installation—nearly 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. At that size, there was no room for movement within the given space, a double-height ceiling over an escalator that would carry 42,000 show attendees. “We wanted it to rotate like a rotisserie chicken, but we went for a larger form,” said Graham Kelman, creative manager for The Guild. Ultimately, the team decided on a static sculpture resembling a twisted spine that gives a sense of movement through color and form. “I lost sleep over whether it would fit because if there was flex in the spine, it wouldn’t work.”
  • Fabricators The Guild
  • Designers karlssonwilker, Marybeth Shaw, The Guild
  • Location Chicago
  • Date of Completion June 2013
  • Material wallcovering, textiles, Masonite, foam, aluminum, plywood, paint, screws
  • Process 3DS Max, SketchUp, CNC milling
The designers worked in SketchUp and 3DS Max to develop layered parameters for 68 slats—the vertebrae along the spine—that would showcase 136 of Wolf-Gordon’s products, one on each side. As visitors ascend the escalator, the slats appear above them like a twisting array of fanned-out cards. The products were arranged by color, forming a gradient that goes from white to orange to red on the way up the escalator and purple to brown on the way down. The edge of each slat slopes one degree, adding to the sculpture’s twisting vortex appearance. Since the sculpture hangs above show goers, realizing the piece with light materials was paramount. The slats are made from foam sandwiched between two sheets of Masonite. An aluminum channel along the perimeter of each slat provides rigidity. A plywood box connects and spaces each slat. The team used the software’s parametric capabilities to calculate where to place screw holes in the boxes and slats to create the twisting geometry. The Guild fabricated the 68 slats and plywood boxes in Brooklyn with a CNC mill, flat-packed for transport to Chicago, and installed at the Mart over a period of three days. “In terms of installation, it went well but it was a strange structure with torsional forces acting on it,” Kelman said. “As we built, the twist revealed itself.” Aircraft cable was fastened strategically along the spine, which was ultimately affixed to a 32-foot-long box trough, securely attached to beams of the ceiling. The final result was another eye-catching surprise during NeoCon at the Merchandise Mart. “Lots of things can go wrong with these projects,” said Shaw. “But if you’re on the same page and trust your collaborator’s intentions, you’ll always find your way to a solution.”
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Product > Finds from the Floor at NeoCon 2013

Nearly 42,000 architects, interior designers, facilities planners, furniture dealers, and distributors converged on NeoCon, the A&D industry's largest exhibition of office, residential, health care, hospitality, institutional, and government design products. Held from June 10–12, the show included education components and keynote presentations from Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG; Michael Vanderbyl, principal of Vanderbyl Design; Holly Hunt, president & CEO of Holly Hunt; and Lauren Rottet, interior architect and founder of Rottet Studio. AN was present to cover a handful of educational seminars and sessions (see our live tweets from Ingels's presentation on our Twitter feed), and we scoured the showrooms in search of 2013's new product trends. Following are a few we saw at the show. COLOR Manufacturers touted a vibrant range of colors across their new product collections. Some say this is indicative of a sustainable economic upturn, while others are just sick of playing it safe. The Us Family American Seating Company A collection of adaptable seating and tables for education environments from American Seating Company was designed with the help of color expert Laura Guido-Clark. As an expert in the color, material, and finish of consumer products, she helped select a palette of 15 colors and 450 fabric options in colorways that improve the learning environment. Eames Molded Fiberglass Side Chair Herman Miller Thanks to advances in sustainable manufacturing technology, Herman Miller reintroduced the molded plastic Arm and Side chairs in fiberglass. A reformulation of the collection's color pigments have also facilitated a commitment to the original nine color options envisioned by the Eameses. Both models are available with a wire, dowel, four leg, stackable, or rocking base. Soon KnollTextiles The Alejandro Cardenas–designed collection of bright colors and graphic patterns was inspired by a song from one of the designer's favorite bands: My Bloody Valentine. The song's rhythm was translated to texture on a textile of 100 percent cotton. The collection exceeds 60,000 Wyzenbeek rubs. PARAMETRICS Design complexities are increasingly achieved via digital design and fabrication methods, and that trend was very much present at NeoCon this year. From furniture to finishings, parametric design visuals were everywhere—and not only in the abundance of hexagonal designs we saw on each floor of the Mart. Off the Wall Mohawk Group Street art finds its way to interior finishes with Off the Wall, a pattern from artist Aakash Nhihalani, who uses neon painter's tape to create illusions of depth in urban environments. These dimensions were translated algorithmically to a linear pattern in Off the Wall, part of the Street Thread Collection, and can be reconfigured to suggest way finding, define an area within a room, or recreate classic textile patterns. Hexagon Shaw Contract Group Bold portrayal of the hexagonal trend was exhibited in Shaw Contract's aptly named carpet tile collection. Developed in collaboration with Chris Heard and Stephen Wells of Atlanta-based design firm Hendricks; John Peterson of Public Architecture; and Michael Murphy of MASS Design Group, six-sided geometric patterns are generatively configured across each tile to continue the pattern in any direction. Cliffy 6000 SIXINCH At nearly 20 feet in length, the curvilinear Cliffy 6000 is part of SIXINCH's U.S. debut of contract-ready, three-step foam-coated furniture. Designed by Rainer Mutsch, repeating sections of the bench curve smoothly along both planes for back-supported seating, lounging, and perching. MATERIAL RESPONSIBILITY Sustainability commitments are not the differentiating factor they once were but manufacturers went beyond predictable promises with their 2013 product launches. In addition to the burgeoning use of rapidly renewable materials, companies looked beyond land masses and focused on preserving the ocean's ecosystems. Blazer Camira Available in 60 new shades, Blazer is made with Laneve-branded wool that features a trace code to identify the material's source in New Zealand. For every yard purchased, Camira donates to the New Zealand Whale and Dolphin Trust to help protect the endangered Hector's Dolphin population off the nation's Banks Peninsula. 2013 Collection with TerraStrand Chilewich Chilewich has substituted petroleum-based plasticizers for TerraStrand, a phthalate-free fiber made from renewable vegetable compounds. Combined with its PVC-free BioFelt backing system, Chilewich products now boast lower greenhouse gas emissions and a lower carbon footprint than traditional vinyl products. Net Effect Interface Designed by David Oakey to convey the movement of water, the yarn fluff on both 20-square-inch tiles and 10- by 40-inch planks is made of 100 percent recycled content from Interface's ReEntry program. Carpet fibers will eventually constructed from nets gathered from the Net-Works project, a joint venture in the Danajon Bank area of the Philippines with the Zoological Society of London that collects and repurposes the discarded fishing nets from some of the world's poorest fishing communities. TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION The effect technology has had on the workplace is undeniable. The ability to work anywhere at any time has changed not only the way we work but where we work and the new corporate environment accommodates everything from advanced integration to stylish simplicity. Bluescape Haworth Developed with Obscura Digital, Bluescape is a cloud-based software and surface that can be accessed on multi-panel high definition touch screens, laptops, and mobile devices simultaneously from anywhere in the world. More than 160 acres of visual data can be stored within the system and does not require a WiFi signal to function across long distances. Element Desk Moser Contract Taking a low-tech approach to workplace technology integration, Adam Rogers's design for the Element desk's classic lines are uninterrupted by cord management strategies. Made from solid, domestically sourced hardwood, hollowed desk legs hide desktop wires and a keyboard drawer with a collapsible front conceals multiple power and data ports. V.I.A. Steelcase Vertical Intelligent Architecture, or V.I.A., makes use of the most underutilized real estate in the office: the walls. Video conferencing capabilities, writable and tackable surfaces, multiple display screens, and acoustical privacy are integrated into a modular system of walls that can be reconfigured and adapted to automatically meet the way people work with embedded sensors, activators, and microprocessors.