From left to right: Maddie Frestedt, Jeanne Anton, Amanda Brown, Natalie Abel, Yessica Sanchez
Earlier this month, five of our architectural technicians traveled to the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to attend NeoCon. Designed to inspire and inform, the event showcases ideas, products and services for the built environment including furniture, fabrics, flooring, interior building products, interior finishes and technology.
But why would architectural technicians, who are not interior designers, attend NeoCon? It started with an interest to learn more said Maddie, “We were interested to see another side of our industry. To learn about new products and the design thinking behind the product development.” All of the women agree that having the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers unlocks their individual potential.
They shared a few of their takeaways from the event:
How much time did you spend at NeoCon? Was it enough?
Amanda: We were there for one day. I would definitely spend 2 days there next year. It was my first time attending and it was much larger than I expected.
Natalie: I feel like we saw more than I was expecting to because it was less crowded than previous years. We were able to visit most of the showrooms we wanted to see.
What trends and themes did you see?
Maddie: Many showrooms and products focused on creating work environments with amenities. We saw a lot of sit to stand desks and privacy solutions. Furniture that had technology features like built in wireless charging was also featured.
Amanda: We saw a lot of bright colors used in the products and designs. Using green walls and plants to decorate spaces was also a trend.
Yessica: And offering a fun environment to make people want come to the office, and providing amenities that you don’t have while working from home – like a ping pong table.
Jeanne: A lot of products featured materials and surfaces that are easy to clean in response to COVID-19.
Which showroom was your favorite?
Yessica: We had fun in the Extremis furniture showroom, we really liked their products. We thought the design of their outdoor picnic table was really innovative, it was designed to be easy to sit on unlike a typical bench seat. Their employees’ outfits matched the nature theme of the showroom, we thought that was a fun idea.
Jeanne: We learned a lot about how carpet is designed and manufactured in the Mohawk showroom. It was really interesting to hear the inspiration and design process behind the patterns and colors since carpet is something we use in all projects.
Which product designs stood out to you the most?
Natalie: I really appreciated the design behind some of the Extremis products. It’s a firm based in Belgium and they put a lot of thought into aesthetic, durability and intention. Their outdoor tables are designed to be more accessible for people who might have a disability or difficulty stepping over a typical bench to sit down – such conscious inclusion is not always considered in the design process. For Extremis, this integration is a common practice, making their products more inclusive for all users.
Were there any items that you would recommend to a client?
Maddie: We think an outdoor table or seating would be great to have for eating lunch and having casual meetings outside. And the sliding whiteboard was cool, I think they would be great in huddle spaces.
Jeanne: We tried a soundproof booth, it would be good for acoustics and private phone calls. But the glass panels made it feel a little like being in a fishbowl.
Would you recommend attending this event?
Amanda: NeoCon is a great way to learn more about the markets we work in, but also to learn about products used in other markets that we could apply to our projects.
Jeanne: I would recommend attending NeoCon. It was a good opportunity to see products in person that I don’t typically get to use in my own projects but wanted to learn more about.
Maddie: Yes, I recommend it. It’s so big that you can look for specific products or just browse and explore like we did. And I got a really nice tote bag from one of the vendors.
Natalie: Yes, NeoCon brings people and ideas together under one roof. It’s great to see the innovation companies are promoting and what new features and products are available to designers and the opportunity to network is done in a fun and exciting atmosphere.
Yessica: It was my first-time attending NeoCon and I really enjoyed it. It was a good way to expand our knowledge and spend time with each other outside of the office. It’s also a great way to network with people from around the country.
We hope to see you in June 2022 at NeoCon!