NeoCon 2021

November 1, 2021

Haley Lamos
Designer, TLCD Architecture

This was my first time attending NeoCon, and my second time visiting Chicago, so I was eager and excited to get back to in-person events and networking. Since 1969, NeoCon has been the most important event of the year for the commercial design industry –  showcasing new design and products, connecting professionals and acting as a launchpad for innovation and inspiration.

This year’s show featured a large range of products released in 2020 that no one has seen, as well as products that have just been released or are working their way into product brochures and textile binders in Design firm libraries across the country. There were even some permanent showrooms and exhibit spaces within and outside theMart launched new this year.

Instead of traveling solo, I was able to attend NeoCon with a colleague from another firm, which only added to the richness of the experience. While exhausting, every day at NeoCon brought new visibility to fun products and beautiful design. With every step we took (in our matching gray sneakers) there was something inspiring hiding around the corner!

From textiles, to furniture, to fun gadgets NeoCon filled the void experienced throughout the pandemic. As a young designer new to the industry, the pandemic was a challenging time to start my career when so much knowledge comes from being educated by our reps on products through not just sight but touch, feel and experiencing first hand. Those sensory experiences solidify new products in my mind, and I struggled to commit that knowledge to memory in a Zoom and MS Teams world during the pandemic.

Needless to say, NeoCon 2021 gave me the opportunity to experience all the amazing products that we specify every day and be exposed to the new technology that is changing the design world.

Sustainability was a big piece of the puzzle this year at Neocon, and I’m sure there is only more to come in 2022. Incorporating green/sustainable design features in manufacturing, materials, and inspiration from nature are informing the process in which the final products are made.

On the tenth floor of theMART, the Metropolis Sustainability Lab at NeoCon was a showcase of how far the interior design profession has come in reducing its negative impact on the environment and in striving to safeguard the health and well-being of people on this planet. I found it to be an awesome display of just a fraction of the products available on the market today that are 100% carbon neutral.

Scandinavian style influence in design and materiality was consistent across many brands at NeoCon.

Design for flexibility through utilization of furniture solutions instead of hard construction was another key trend and provided many ideas for our own projects at TLCD!