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NeoCon 2021 Top Trends + Products

NeoCon wrapped up its 30th year on October 6 at theMART, reuniting the commercial interior design industry for a buzzing celebration of innovative design and valuable connections. 500 industry leaders took advantage of the nearly 1 million square feet of exhibition space to release new product innovations that will impact the offices and other shared spaces of the future. Whether it’s tents and pergolas especially designed for both individual and collaborative work, products for a neurodiverse workforce, flooring that incorporates biophilic patterns, or dynamic furniture systems ideal for flexibility, manufacturers at NeoCon showcased solutions that contribute to the inclusive, efficient, and user-focused workplace critical to the well-being of and retention of today’s workforce.

Here is our selection for top workplace trends and products featured at NeoCon 2021:

1. Outdoor Spaces that Accommodate Work​

The movement of the office outdoors is nothing new, but there is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated and popularized the trend. Taking advantage of the external environment also allows for greater available use of real estate, such as utilizing the square footage between buildings on office campuses. Once thought of mainly for al fresco social gatherings, employees are increasingly seeking outdoor spaces as havens for focused, individual work, as well as collaboration​.

AMAi by Extremis is an adjustable table that you can tailor to the needs of any gathering, whether indoors or outdoors, for work or play, making each experience valuable and easy-going. The frame overhead also has some conjuring assets to offer. LED-lights support your gathering well into the evening and power outlets offer connectivity even outdoors. A clever shade structure offers protection from the sun or shelters you from light drizzle. When used indoors, the same shade is an acoustic upgrade, adding an ambient vibe to even the most sterile places.​ By adding more A-frames, you extend togetherness into infinity. Get creative by combining your favorite finishes and accessories to accommodate any communal experience.

Solar by Viccarbe is a disruptive swivel table concept that leads to new ways of working and collaborating for both Indoor and Outdoor spaces.​ A new concept of versatile table, ideal for offices, educational environments such as schools or universities, restaurants and coworking spaces, and for outdoor use.​

2. Space Division, Multi-Use Solution + Mobility​

Offering a myriad of options and areas for different kinds of work requires space utilization efficiency and mobility.

Flex Active Frames by Steelcase are adaptable structures that define space by creating productive, flexible and inspiring homes for teams.​

A colorful room-within-a-room, the raw shell of GRID by Established & Sons provides a base for modular seating, shelves, tables and screens, which can be integrated in different ways to create a playful and multifunctional environment for informal meetings, presentations or simply hanging out.

3. Hexagon + Organic Shape​s

Geometric and organic-shaped systems allow for innovative, unique and space-saving configurations.

Designed to provide enhanced privacy in an open office world, Vox® Hex by Nienkämper is a refined workstation that looks and feels more like a private office. With its unique Hexagon shape, it makes the most efficient use of available floor space.

The foundation of Flex Personal Spaces by Steelcase includes two key elements – desks and privacy wraps – that support over a dozen possible workstation configurations. When combined together they create workstation clusters that support a spectrum of privacy, adaptability and space planning – including the signature hex footprint.

4. Tents + Pods / Adaptable Space (Privacy for Individual Work + Mobility)​

Privacy solutions are not only ideal for heads-down, focused work, they can also offer users a sense of security. With its light and airy organic shape, Steelcase’s Work Tent—whether outfitted with a desk and chair or lounge seating—is a stylish and safe personal haven within an open floor plan.

On the QT phone booths by Orangebox strike a balance between the need for efficient space and workable comfort—so you can take a video call, carry out focused work or simply think for a while.

Work Tents by Steelcase is a collection of versatile privacy solutions – inspired by tents, designed for the workplace. From simple screens to small enclosures, Work Tents provide privacy and shelter in the office - in an unexpected and delightful way.

The Patkau Cocoon by Nienkämper is completely unexpected and a welcome retreat, just what a modern workplace demands. Its organic form combined with the feeling of natural materials provides an almost poetic and sculptural presence.

5. Colorful Tables + Benching at Varying Heights​

​Tables and seating that utilize colors and varying heights allow for a playfully varied workplace setting.

Tun Side Tables by Naughtone are part of a sculptural trio that lets color take center stage. The strong silhouette provides a blank canvas for a wide range of colors, with 14 tabletop options and 16 hues for the steel base.

Exhale Bench by Nienkämper is a multi-purpose seating module/upholstered bench for public spaces. The two modules adds some privacy/separation between people using the same seating.

Contrary to traditional seating elements, BuzziCee by BuzziSpace features a symmetrical curved shape that allows colleagues to hold informal meetings or to sit together apart. The unique acoustic seating solution is made to be placed in the center of a space and is additionally perfect for creating Hubs of Togetherness

6. Modular Seating + Chairs with Integrated Tables and/or Power

For informal meetings, brainstorm sessions or when your desk isn't cutting it, modular lounge with built-in power allows for flexibility in choice in the way you work.

Inspired by familiar architectural forms, Archetype by Arcadia is a modular lounge collection with a robust presence that effortlessly radiates comfort. Arm and armless seating models, together with beautifully imagined adjoining table options, provide the building blocks to create welcoming arrangements for any space.

Brig by Nienkämper is designed to create configurations that allow people to visualize their own personal space and with combinations facing in various directions. Available with integrated power and with a focus on people, materials and upholstery, Brig Lounge responds to the ever evolving context of work.

7. All-Mesh Chairs

Innovations with fully-mesh task chairs allow for big steps in sustainability, comfort and ergonomics. Not to mention, it looks great.

Karman by Steelcase goes beyond leading mesh chairs with 21st century design that naturally responds to a body’s movement, delivering industry-leading comfort, ergonomics and sustainability.

Onda by Via Seating supports both ergonomic and design philosophies and holds both in perfect harmony without any compromise. Discover instantaneous comfort personalized to the way you sit with Onda—Italian for “Wave”—Via Seating’s first all mesh chair.

8. Mobile Lounge with Handle for Easy Mobility

Flexibility continues to be at the forefront with lounge that is made to move. Handles and casters allow you to take seating where you need it when you need it.

From pop-up workspaces to inviting lounges, Wunder by Keilhauer provides a comfortable solution. Lounge and side seating, stools, a bench and a table form an inspiring collection designed to provide the perfect state of relaxation for brainstorming, ideation and creativity.

GoGo by Encore is a charming collection of benches, ottomans and lounge seating that keeps pace with the speed of change. Cleverly hidden casters allow each model to be easily moved for quick reconfigurability, providing guests with the freedom to gather together for impromptu meeting and collaboration sessions or break away for individual activities.

The Mitt Lounge Chair by Bernhardt Design brings casual comfort and relaxed ambiance into your workspace. Reminiscent of a baseball glove, this thoroughly modern design supports and helps you feel relaxed. The matching handle at the back and the four weight-activated self-locking casters make it easy to lug the chair around your office or home.

9. Accounting for Mental Health and Neurodiversity

Employee wellness has been a major consideration in office design for many years, but mental wellbeing is coming into greater focus. According to a recent study, 74% of all workers, including 88% of those ages 18-24, say poor mental health has impacted their productivity (Aetna International’s 2020 Employee Health Study). In addition to reducing anxiety, which is at an all time high due to the pandemic, research indicates the need for workplaces and solutions that accommodate a neurodiverse workforce. Versatile environments that provide for a range of options give users more control and choice, fostering equality, integration, and helping to reduce anxiety. Flexible layouts and work solutions individuals can self-select for different kinds of work also contribute to a healthier, more functional and inclusive workplace.”

The 2Q Huddle by Framery contributes to a more flexible office, offering employees another multifunctional space that includes a table to accommodate up to six people. Its superior sound insulation system and designated display screen guarantees internal meetings and video conferences won’t disturb others.

The Workwall by HON transforms any workspace into a personalized “command central” allowing employees more control over the way they work.