Category Archives: NeoCon

Design Trends of 2017 from NeoCon, Clerkenwell Design Week, and More

Gretchen Wagner

From Milan to New York to London to Chicago, spring and summer mark some of the busiest months of our calendar. We sent designers to the Milan Furniture Fair, NYCxDesign, Clerkenwell Design Week and NeoCon this year! So in an effort to capture the essence, I’ve compiled our most notable design moments and trends of the season below.

Well-intentioned and thoughtful approaches to design and color seemed to be at the front of everyone’s mind. Attention has been directed toward creating experiences within environments versus focusing on output, the result being well-designed furniture pieces in delicious materials and color palettes that are simple, beautiful and functional.

Moving Beyond the “Corporate” Look

We continue to see a blending of environments when it comes to commercial interior trends. The boutique hotel and corporate office look more similar than different these days. Neighborhoods for different work styles continue to be the focus of major brands, while smaller brands drive attention toward bespoke and limited production pieces.

Haworth Showroom NeoCon 2017

Office space configuration at the Haworth Showroom at NeoCon 2017

All of this rolls up into a common theme of work choice, providing options for the quiet introvert and the social extrovert. Office furniture has moved well beyond the workstation to incorporate lounge seating and low surfaces. Furniture as interior architecture is delineating space with high backs and collaborative configurations. Systems are designed to match an intended function; not the other way around.

Buzzi Space

Courtesy of BuzziSpace. Photographer: Chris Bradley

Embracing Color

After Milan, I thought it was something in the Italian air, but both NeoCon and Clerkenwell showed an overall deepening of color palettes. The omnipresent neutral wash to which we’ve grown accustomed has shifted into emotional rich shades of color that quickly approach black, often shown as monochromatic settings. These deeply saturated darks, in malachite, garnet, inky indigo and rust, create a moody palette that compliment neutrals rather than accent them.

Knoll

Courtesy of Knoll, Inc.

This earthy palette is bringing about a wide range of textures and natural materials. Everything from brassy bronze and oxidized metals to smooth marble and velvety upholstery. The overall tone, showed an affinity to luxury finishes and material palettes in yummy colors.

Natural materials trends

Emerging Trend: Natural Materials
1. Louise Tucker, 2. Pinscher, 3. Friends Founders, 4. Hand Eye Studio, 5. Devol Kitchens, 6. Par-avion Co, 7. Lozi, 8. Resound by Camilla Lee

Pantone Color Kale trends

Pantone Color Spotting: Kale
1. Moss, 2. Connection, 3. Hand and Eye Studio, 4. Moss Wall, 5. Poliform, 6. Connection, 7. Dare Studio, 8. Connection, 9. Urban Live Picture

We are about to dive head first into our favorite Fall shows, so stay tuned for trend updates from design weeks around the world. Next up, London Design Festival, Maison Objet, Fashion Week’s around the globe and BDNY.

XOXO

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Shake the Cobwebs Loose: A Design Tour of Chicago

Chip DeGrace

For a guy like me who has teams of people working on two showrooms and a massive party venue, the Friday before NeoCon isn’t a good time for a boondoggle. That is unless the talented and convincing guys that produce the highly entertaining “Lunch and Learn” for Designer Pages call you to hang. Then it’s time to lean on your interns and turn the cell phone off.

So, I agreed to be the non-thespian foil for their band of pseudo designer participants in a NeoCon-themed episode titled “NeoCon’d.” The set up was for me to play myself, the design guy from Interface, and tour the memorable, misfit band around Chicago, exposing them to some unique, inspirational venues. These would be places near to my eccentric, designer heart. Places that most out of town conventioneers wouldn’t know existed, and if they did, they’d only go there on a dare.

Chip DeGrace in Lunch and Learn

“Lunch and Learn” characters Brick and Sebastian meet Chip DeGrace in the Interface showroom.

Consistent with the jag Interface has been on about the power of +Positive spaces, I noodled on a range of spots from the ridiculous to the sublime. The kind of joints that can shake the cobwebs loose in your noggin after you’ve been on back to back conference calls for the better part of a day. Our subtext for Interface’s product focus this year is creating flooring systems that can help designers create interiors that have variable, spatial moments that bring a full range of experience. Imagine your office legitimately surprising you, inspiring you and conversely calming you down just when you need it. I pondered the places I go to be as far from my regular inputs as possible. Inputs that can come romantically from nature or perversely from something you’ve found stuck on your shoe. Then, with three places in mind, we set off.

Lunch and Learn tour

“This is all about positivity!”

Tour Stop #1: The Odd

The first location on the tour was a crazy ass, retail emporium called Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities.

Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities

It was started in 2010 by a young couple who were inspired by a set of teeth that had been passed down to them. The shop has continued to collect medical oddities, preserved animal fetuses in jars, and other bizarre relics that now crowd every inch of shelf space. Countless bones and skulls are spread throughout the store, as well as biology manikins, outdated medical equipment and manuals, and copious amounts of strange taxidermy. The two-headed calf shares merchandising duties with an alligator that has been turned into a lamp with the bulb in its mouth.

Chip DeGrace at Woolly Mammoth

(Left) Actor Jamie Campbell examines the merchandise; (Right) Designer Pages CEO Jake Slevin gives Chip some pointers between takes.

Every inch is filled with interesting, one of a kind finds. Each solitary baby doll arm and vintage set of artificial eyeballs begs investigation and demands consideration. You become absorbed within the complexity of the goods presented, part of the composition, both staring and being stared at. Whatever was clogging your head is forgotten, giving you space for something new. Many an aspiring artist frequents this establishment for materials to use in their work, and original art by the owner is also available for sale. The Woolly Mammoth is a popular stop for Chicago locals who enjoy sifting through the overwhelming collection to unearth unique cultural fragments. The store even offers classes for anyone who wants to make taxidermy of their own, although philosophies on death are not included.

Tour Stop #2: The Peaceful

My tour group was just starting to breathe normally when we pulled up to the gates of our second stop, Graceland Cemetery. Though this choice seemed equally unorthodox at first glance and is full of the remains of dead people, it is a beautiful and serene oasis in the center of the city.

Graceland Cemetery

Founded in 1860, Graceland was a new type of cemetery. It wasn’t just a utilitarian place to bury the dead. Lush, sculptured, pastoral landscapes with sweeping vistas and carefully designed plantings create a park like atmosphere. The natural beauty surrounds grand mausoleums commissioned by wealthy patrons, designed by the best of the day. Many of the landscape designers and architects who shaped the cemetery are themselves buried there. This type of “rural cemetery” offers dignity to the dead and pleasure to their living visitors. So, many years later, the vibe is one of stepping into a textbook of the significant architecture and landscape design of the twentieth century. The bonus is your ability to talk to the authors, albeit it may be a one way conversation.

cemetery

Graceland Cemetery just what a cemetery should be: peaceful, contemplative and rich in spirit.

Graceland is sometimes called the “cemetery of architects” because so many esteemed members of the profession have been laid to rest here.

The list of significant contributors to modern architecture and design seems incomprehensible. Daniel Burnham, one of the city’s planners and head of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, is buried there on his own private island on Graceland’s placid lake. John Root and his partner William Holabird, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, David Adler, Bruce Graham (architect of the Willis (Sears) Tower), William Le Baron Jenney (father of the American skyscraper), Marion Mahoney-Griffin (one of the first female licensed architects in the world) and many others who designed the Chicago we know today can also be found here. The architects’ and designers’ graves reflect in one last expression the ethos of their lives and practices.

Additionally, there’s no end to the names of famous Chicagoans that you’d recognize as you walk amongst the monuments, like Goodman, Palmer, Getty, Marshall Field, McCormick, Pullman, Wacker, the Cubs’ great Ernie Banks, Jack Johnson, and Medill, just to name a few. Their tombs and mausoleums range from magnificent opulence to surprising simplicity, and there’s plenty to explore away from the much-visited graves of the famous. Louis Sullivan’s design for Carrie Eliza Getty’s tomb has been called “the beginning of modern architecture in America.” It’s a testament not only to Sullivan’s imagination, but also to the way that such an environment can accommodate and even inspire a design that forever altered the world of architecture.

Perhaps the best thing about Graceland is that it’s just what a cemetery should be: peaceful, contemplative and rich in spirit.

Tour Stop #3: The Sublime

When we turned into the parking lot of the Lincoln Park Zoo at Fullerton and the Lake, my co-conspirators thought they were going to hang out with the gorillas. But I had something much more sublime in mind.

lily pool

The lily pond is an example of transcendent space. It’s difficult not to sit down, slow your breathing and take time.

Leaving the busloads of kids and the din of expressway speed traffic on Lake Shore Drive, we passed through a Prairie School style gate into an overlooked garden of unmatched beauty. Magically, only bird songs and the sound of a gentle waterfall break the restful silence. Interestingly, this pond is on the migratory path of over 5,000 songbirds. Follow the limestone walk encircling the lily pool and discover a pavilion, council ring, and diverse native plantings. This is the vision of landscape architect Alfred Caldwell: a hidden garden for the people of Chicago designed to resemble a river meandering through a great Midwestern prairie.

The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

The site of the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool was originally part of a Victorian garden built in 1889 that displayed tropical lilies and other aquatic plants. When the Victorian-style garden fell out of popularity, the hour-glass shaped pond and its environs had fallen into ruin and disrepair. the Lily Pool fell into disrepair until 1936 when Alfred Caldwell redesigned the pool and its surrounding area. By the 1930s Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was hired by the Works Progress Administration to completely redesign this area of Lincoln Park. Caldwell realized that the Lily Pool presented him with the unique opportunity to realize his poetic symbolism and design theories and philosophies.

Small in scale, it was designed to bring the Midwestern prairie natural planting vocabulary to a lily pond. Niagra limestone lines the walk, and once you stop and view the pond, depending upon where you are standing, you may view it as a running brook or as a pond. The stunning, small, pergola-like buildings in Prairie style are often mistaken as a work of Caldwell’s friend Frank Lloyd Wright.

Lily Pool

The small, pergola-like buildings are often mistaken as a work of Caldwell’s friend Frank Lloyd Wright.

In 1938 the project was nearing completion and the park district decide to cut a major expenditure for wildflower plantings. Caldwell cashed in his $5000 life insurance policy for $250, bought thousands of plants and transported them from Sauk County, Wisconsin. The next day he planted them all around the lily pools with the help of four others.

Ironically, the history of the pond and the small park that surrounds it has had cycles of decay and rebirth, not unlike the prairie that it attempts to emulate. In the early 1950s, the pool was transformed into a water exhibit featuring exotic birds and water fowl and came to be known as The Rookery. Overgrazing by zoo birds had a devastating effect on the lily pond. A lack of landscaping management (allowing invasive plants and “weed” trees to take over the understory), heavy human foot traffic, uncontrolled erosion and the introduction of plant materials that were invasive to the existing lilies substantially damaged the garden. In 1997, the Chicago Park District, with the help of private donations, created a Master Plan to restore Caldwell’s historic landscape and improve accessibility.

The lily pond is an example of transcendent space. It’s difficult not to sit down, slow your breathing and take time. My message to my band of design padawans was that the job of designers is to create spaces that engage and enrich the user. Not in a specific, linear, programmed way, but rather by giving people the opportunity to experience the ridiculous to the sublime in their every day. To mimic the magic, wonder and even fear we experienced in both the designed and organic environments we sampled on our travels is to create enriching, positive spaces.

Chip DeGrace in Lunch and Learn

“I feel… positive.” That’s a wrap.

For inspiration with a side of laughs, watch our episode Neocon episode of “Lunch and Learn.”

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Interface Celebrates +Positive spaces with Great People and Great Design

Savannah Weeks
HiP Award

David and Cindi Oakey celebrate the HiP Award win for Human Connections.

Interface brought home three HiP awards at NeoCon 2017 and continues to garner recognition for its successful sustainability leadership and manufacturing practices

Human Connections, David Oakey’s latest global collection for Interface, highlights the beauty of the outdoors through its unique interpretation of nature’s role in communities. The collection won for Interior Design’s HiP Award for Best Workplace flooring, a highly competitive award category.

Our talented designer (and expert parallel parker) Gretchen Wagner won Interior Design’s esteemed HiP Rising Star Award, and San Francisco-based superstar Account Executive Brandon Maddox took HiP Seller.

While creating beautifully designed products remains a critical function for Interface, we also maintain a commitment to the earth and creating a climate fit for life. We recently garnered accolades for leadership in sustainability and recycling, being named CARE’s Recycler of the Year for 2016. Our Net-Works program, which in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, empowers people in coastal communities in the developing world to collect and sell discarded nylon fishing nets, won Business Partnership of the Year from the U.K.’s National Recycling Awards.

In fact, Interface was recently recognized as a global sustainability leader for the 20th consecutive year in GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s annual Sustainability Leaders Survey. Earning third place this year, Interface is the only company to appear on the list each year since the study began in 1997, and held a place in the top four since 1998.

2017_30_under_30_575x350

Additionally, Jarami Bond, Manager of Sustainability, was recognized as a young leader by sustainability industry publication Greenbiz. Named one of 30 leaders under 30, Jarami was applauded for his commitment to Interface’s sustainability mission as well as his community involvement in Atlanta and college mentorship.

We thank and congratulate our employees for their well-deserved recognition. It’s their passion, talent and dedication that help us continue to create beautiful, sustainable and positive spaces.

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NeoCon 2016 Buzz & Trends

Gretchen Wagner

NeoCon season has come and gone yet again and I’m still buzzing. Not sure if that’s the prosecco talking or all the inspiration. Every company puts out their latest and greatest for all to see and the months of preparation lead to an exciting three days of what feels like endless cocktail parties, tired feet and most importantly great design (not bad, huh?).

NeoCon 2016 Highlights

Top of my list every year is the Maharam showroom. This year (like all years) they delivered, but most notable was the teaser of leathers and hides that will be launching later this year. Soft suedes in the most yummy colors you could imagine were scattered amongst woven patterns practically begging you touch every piece of material hanging in their showroom.

Highly functional furniture

The design trend of hackable furniture from Milan two years ago is ever present in the workplace – everything is in the user’s control now and at the touch of a button no less. Lift and lower workstations give every individual the opportunity to work at their own level (literally). Space is getting limited and the solutions are clever and dual purpose. Functionality and form are married at this point and there’s no turning back.

Rockwell Unscripted by Knoll

Rockwell Unscripted by Knoll. Photos courtesy of Knoll.

Modularity is key for the user to express themselves. Think movable walls that also have acoustic features, seating than can be stacked in a variety of functions and tables (with handles!!) that are light enough to lift and move around. Privacy barriers that double as hidden storage and cozy nooks that can expand into collaborative areas. I’m speaking about Knoll’s collection “Rockwell Unscripted”. The collaboration with David Rockwell has solidified this trend. Inspiration coming from Rockwell’s innovative scenic designs for Broadway theater not only inspired the collection but also landed him a Tony Award less than two weeks earlier. Talk about cross-disciplinary design (drool).

BuzziSpace launched some playful office products including a topsy turvy balancing surface that keeps your body agile while taking those lengthy conference calls. Also the adult equivalent to a jungle gym in the office kept show-goers entertained. If it wasn’t for the fear of scuffing my brand new Campers, I would have shimmied my way to the top in a heart beat.

What’s new in color?

I’m still excited about monochromatic color palettes that showcase varied textures, patterns and materials all mixed together in simple coordinating color palettes. Maybe I’m just geeking out that my years of color theory have finally come to fruition, but I’m seeing it across the board at Vitra, West Elm Workspace, BuzziSpace and Steelcase, not to mention in retail and small businesses via Instagram. Is it possible that the year of ALL colors is upon us?

Of course, there are some notable standouts; mandarin, tomato, tangerine and everything in between still raves on and the soft pastel upholstery mixed with walnut and teak are ever present in the continued obsession with mid-century modern.

Take a swing over to our Pinterest page for continued visual inspiration and we’ll see you in Chicago – same time, next year.

XOXO

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NeoCon Happenings 2016

Interface

NeoCon is here and we can’t wait to share some big news with you. Not only are we launching the World Woven™ Collection, we’re also beginning the next chapter of our sustainability journey.

NeoCon

While you’re at NeoCon, visit Interface at two locations from 9am – 5pm:
– Merchandise Mart Suite 10-136
– 345 North Wells Street, 3rd Floor (across from the Merchandise Mart on the East end)

MONDAY, JUNE 13
8am – 10am | Coffee and smoothie bar with barista | 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor
9am – 5pm | Show hours | MM Suite 10-136 & 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor
5:30pm – 7:30pm | Cocktail party | 401 North Morgan | RSVP here

TUESDAY, JUNE 14
8am – 10am | Coffee and smoothie bar with barista | 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor
8:30am – 9am | 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design book signing and giveaway with Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green | 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor
9am – 5pm | Show hours | MM Suite 10-136 & 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor
10:30am – 11:30am | 14 Patterns of Biophilic Design book signing and giveaway with Bill Browning of Terrapin Bright Green | MM Suite 10-136
1pm – 2pm | “Beyond Beauty: What is Biophilic Design and Why Does it Matter?” with Bill Browning and David Gerson | NeoCon session T217

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15
9am – 5pm | Show hours | MM Suite 10-136 & 345 North Wells, 3rd Floor

Can’t make it? We’ll bring it to you virtually! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #NegativeToPositive and #WorldWoven.

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