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Neocon & Design Days 2024

... and a special Q&A with our new Workplace Strategy Director, Cat Peterson. Read on for some of her takes on the recent Neocon and Design Days exhibitions, current trends and what we are seeing for workplace design.

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Pivot SF 402

Meet Cat.

Q: You were recently named Workplace Strategy Director at Pivot. What does this role entail?

A: As Workplace Strategy Director, I am focused on a range of initiatives at Pivot - promoting our creative design capabilities, supporting collective knowledge sharing and building relationships that drive outstanding workplace environments. My efforts help strengthen our understanding of where the industry is going through research and evaluation of Pivot clients’ projects and programs. My role requires a blend of strategic thinking, leadership, and a deep understanding of the evolving work landscape.

Q: Tell us a little about your background in the industry.

A: I am a proud Bay Area native and have spent the last 23 years living in San Francisco. I’m incredibly social and love spending time with my community of friends and family here. My career started in healthcare architecture and commercial interiors, working at Anshen + Allen/Stantec and NBBJ across 11 years. I transitioned to the contract furniture dealer world in 2016 with Pivot Interiors for the last 8 years, holding positions as a Senior Designer, Design Studio Lead for Northern California, and now most recently Workplace Strategy Director representing our Research + Design team.


Maharam fabrics at Design Days

Q: You attended Neocon and Design Days this year. What were some of the top trends you saw?

A: I saw six major trends across the exhibits:

1) Sustainability and Circular Design. There was a strong focus on both innovative, eco-friendly materials as well as a conscious effort to minimize waste and reduce carbon emissions through the product manufacturing process. It wasn’t just about “what’s new” but more about how improvements can be made on existing products.

2) Flexible Simplicity. Many of the pieces we saw were simple, paired down designs that cater to evolving user needs through mobility or dual-purpose functionality.

3) Designing for the Senses and Wellbeing. Neuroaesthetics was touched upon through thoughtful use of color theory and lighting. A consideration for acoustics across various applications were plentiful.

4) Integrated Technology. We have seen this trend getting more attention over the last several years as many offices work to optimize the conferencing and the virtual meeting experience.

5) Hospitality Vibes. With a new range of reasons to come into the office, we are seeing a shift toward environments that foster community with an approachable, elevated experience.

6) The Curated Outdoors. Unique solutions to gathering outside came with surprise and delight.

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The Allermuir Sofa 01

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The Keilhauer Dais lounge chair

Q: What colors, textures and finishes did you see this year?

A: Our team noted a deep, sophisticated use of color – many rich warm hues paired with softer, sheer tones. We also saw a lot of developments in sustainable finishes, such as seaweed and recycled fabric board. Finally, textures and fabrics seemed to be presented with a force of purity, highlighting the nature of materials in their true form. Nothing was overly fussy or embellished.

Q: With the ever-evolving nature of the workplace and influence of social factors in the past several years, what particular trends do you think influenced the pieces you saw?

A: In a world where we don’t quite know what the future holds for workplace design, the need for adaptability where a space must solve for multiple functions is paramount. This typically requires furniture to be easily reconfigured and flexible per use case. This was also the case with integrated technology – we saw user-controlled, untethered power solutions that can go where they are needed at any time.

We also saw solutions that reflect takeaways from distributed and hybrid work. It is vital that furniture settings address virtual connectivity in their features and capabilities. To soften the transition from home to office, dimmable lighting, careful acoustics, and warmer, more approachable furniture set the stage for comfort, providing an equitable experience as possible.

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The Mizetto Enfold Work Table System & Enfold chair

Q: How did trends appear to change or evolve from what you saw in 2023?

A: This year I saw an across-the-board conscious effort to promote the sustainability initiatives which each manufacturer is working towards. There was a strong sense of ownership in our responsibility to positively impact our people and the planet as we contribute to the built environment. With this ethos, an air of optimism was abundant. The energy at NeoCon and Design Days was palpable this year – our community is strong and committed to a bright future in commercial design.

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Sustainability display of the NaughtOne Pippin chair

Q: Did you have a favorite designer or piece from Neocon and Design Days 2024 – and why?

A: A favorite is always hard to choose! I’d have to say the Insula modular sofa designed by Patricia Urquiola for Kettal. It is comfortable, versatile, with artfully unexpected details, and enjoys socializing outdoors – a bit of me!

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The Insula modular sofa by Patricia Urquiola for Kettal

Q: How do you see yourself working with the A&D community going forward in your new role?

A: I am so inspired by our A&D community -The level of talent in our region is a thing to be admired. I hope to partner with the designers in our industry by providing education, information, tools and expertise to help them do their best work. I'm also excited to share the work that our Research and Design (R+D) Team is doing and look forward to learning more from you all to build better together!

Additionally, I will be joining the IIDA NorCal Board this year, as Assistant VP of Membership and am looking forward to encouraging members and connecting outside of our day-to-day work environments through this great network.

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The Nienkamper Vox Community table close-up

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The Nucraft Portal table

Q: What do you see for Pivot’s design team in the year going forward?

A: Pivot has a resilient group of designers with a passion for creating environments that empower people. The landscape of complexities on our projects are ever evolving and therefore so are we. Our focus is always on continuous improvement, learning and trying new approaches to how we work. We’re excited to support our clients and partners as we solve for the future. A few things we are currently studying:

  • How we utilize AI and other software platforms can facilitate our processes and workflows.
  • How we can be stewards of the built and natural environment, providing the most sustainable solutions on our projects.
  • How we maintain our intention on the human experience through all we do, creatively designing for people first.

Main image pictured above: Las Ondas custom banquette by Martin Brattrud.

Interested in learning more? Is there a topic we can explore together? Connect with Pivot’s Research + Design team below.