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FRESH Perspectives

FRESH Perspectives: NeoCon 2017

Pivot's Maddy Raman walks us through her time in Chicago at NeoCon 2017

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This was my first visit to NeoCon, and I was excited to experience the show firsthand. The Merchandise Mart is 2 city blocks and 25 stories of innovation and culture. I was eager to visit my favorite vendors, meet new manufacturers, sit in all the furniture, touch the fabrics, see new products, and discover the latest trends.

Merchandise Mart

I started off Monday morning strolling through a few showrooms including Koleksiyon and Okamura. Boccaporto by Koleksiyon and Muffle by Okamura both showcased a major trend at NeoCon this year which I dubbed "secondary solo workspaces."

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Koleksiyon, Okamura

After a couple of hours, a group of us went on a tour of the beautiful Brazilian vendor Sossego, the positive and vivacious naughtone, and the newly revamped HBF Furniture & Textiles. All three vendors used pops of saturated colors like magenta, deep blue, and shades of green to catch the eye. 

HBF made a big impression in their showroom with Kanso, a multi-layered lounge piece, another theme I noticed this year.

Sossego Naughtone Hbf
Sossego, naughtone, HBF Furniture & Textiles

Next I met up with Dennis at Herman Miller where we saw the launch of Live OS and then we checked out the new Prospect portfolio. The hit of the showroom was the new soft seating line ColorForm. Check out the cute pic I snapped of RJ Stelter and Pivot's Donna Clervi sitting on the pink sectional! 

Herman Miller 001

And then.. the festivities began!

I started with the Prosecco Party at HBF Textiles - the textures and colors of their new fabric lines paired with bubbly was picture perfect.

Next, I made my way over to Allermuir, which was quite a different scene. The showroom was dimly lit, every surface was occupied by people laughing and enjoying conversation with DJ Madrid on the turn table, and the bar was overflowing with appetizers and drinks. It was a real throw down!

Allermuir And Hbf 002

Lastly, I made my way up to AndreuWorld, where they were serving Spanish style tapas paired with Spanish wine and Flamenco dancers; una fiesta divertida! 

Andreuworld 002

After an exhilarating Day 1, I was so happy to return to the small but upscale boutique hotel, EMC2. This space embodied art and science through its design and modern amenities. There were marble surfaces with rose gold metal features, clever graphics that detected motion and change, a floor to ceiling tufted leather headboard, topped off by a wall to wall art piece, and robots that provided late night room service! A stay at EMC2 was truly an experience of its own!

Emc2 Hotel 002

Tuesday began in the South Lobby, where Herman Miller rolled-out their Essential Elements, a term I much prefer to “ancillary”. Essential Elements positions Herman Miller as a one-stop shop for furniture needs outside of the workstation, and not just with Classic Collection pieces, but beautiful products from Geiger, Magis, Mattiazzi, naughtone, Nemschoff and DWR.

Herman Miller South Lobby 001

The rest of my day was jam packed with showroom tours! Next I stopped by Bernhardt and was impressed with all their newest pieces. A standout was the contemporary collection presented by actor Terry Crews, including the beautifully unique Lilypad Lounge Chair.


BuzziSpace was dimly lit, except for a small portion in the back where all the BuzziBalance products were found; the acoustic product was all upholstered in shades of grey, while their furniture was upholstered in pops of color that caught the eye. Their BuzziCane lounge pieces were all upholstered in a velvet-like fabric which only added to the luxurious sit of this product line.


OFS Brands introduced 16 new lines at NeoCon this year and had done a great job of incorporating all their lines together in various vignettes throughout the showroom. My favorites were the Heya and Rowen Lounge collections. Heya, as a secondary workspace, creates a space within the office for people to either refocus independently or collaborate closely. Rowen is a lounge series with very clean lines, but don’t be fooled by its minimal aesthetic – it is very warm and inviting to sit in.

Ofs Brands

Davis’ showroom was nothing short of bright and beautiful! Of their 14 new introductions, my personal favorites were Nora, Reed and Soft Privacy. Nora is a stunning new line, with a minimal base, and strong lines – you won’t believe how comfortable it is until you sit in it! Reed is a cool and innovative new stacking chair which combines solid wood and plastic, bringing warmth and color to any space -- a perfect example of the theme of mixed materials I noticed trending this year. Soft Privacy is exactly that! It's a soft lounge chair which supports individuals' need to think, work, and relax away from their primary workstation.

Davis 001

The trip ended with a team dinner at NoMi. It was a great chance to wind down with familiar faces, and share our experiences at NeoCon. We started with a bottle of Bordeaux but our waiter, upon hearing we were from California, gifted us with a bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon to end our night!

Nomi And Group

And with that, my trip to Chicago brought me back to California, buzzing with the inspiring trends of 2017, ready to share my finds with colleagues, clients, and more! 

Want more NeoCon? Check out our roundup of the top 5 trends we spotted in Chicago!