Guest Blog: NeoCon wrap up: Trends in Workplace Furniture & Design

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Date: July 24, 2015

Written ByStephanie Douglass, Director of Workplace Strategy at Teknion

Last month’s NeoCon  show in Chicago – the largest commercial interiors show in North America – unveiled a host of new furniture products as well as highlighted some major trends in workplace design thinking.  Here are the three of the top trends that we observed:

  • Blurring of commercial / residential

Maybe in reaction to the fact that we spend a larger percentage of our lives at work than ever before (37% on average! More than sleeping!), incorporation of residential components and aesthetics into corporate workplaces was a major theme of the show. Smaller, more human scaled pieces, as well as furniture that looked like it would be equally suited to a corporate or home office.  Systems offerings like Teknion’s new UpStage product, which is furniture-based as opposed to panel based, and uses pieces like bookcases, cabinets  and other functional space dividers to create individual workspaces. A ‘Y’ shaped leg also lends an aesthetic that is different than the typical linear forms we most often associate with commercial furniture.


(Image: UpStage furniture system aims to addresses the need for privacy as well as the need to be connected to coworkers in the modern workplace)

  •  Designing for movement

Under the larger theme of workplace wellness, which many manufacturers mentioned and was a common theme in education sessions, there was a greater emphasis on designing for movement.  A far cry from the original ‘cubicle’ designed that aimed to eliminate all movement with the aim of increasing productivity,  we now know that increasing user mobility actually helps us think, as well as feel, better.  Height adjustable tables were everywhere, at a range of functionalities and price points, including Teknion’s  Livello and HiSpace tables.  Additionally, there were a greater variety of alternate work settings including lounge furniture, a range of meeting space types that encourage users to move around different spaces as needed. Re-configurability and access to power outlets were also key!

  •  Textures & Materials

Materiality played a big role in this year’s show, most specifically in textiles. As our worlds become more permeated with technology tools:  screens, metal, sleek surfaces – it becomes more important to balance that with complimentary textures and materials. Things like higher tactility, more vivid colors and materials and softer surfaces  not only help balance spaces aesthetically, but help with acoustical mitigation and create visual interest. Material contents, including recycled and chemical contents, is also increasingly important.

For more information on things like the Declare label and material transparency, check out


(Image: Teknion Textile’s new Texture Edge Collection)

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Written ByStephanie Douglass, Director of Workplace Strategy at Teknion