NeoCon, the largest Interior Design Trade Show in the country, occurs every year during the second week of June. It is considered the commercial design industry’s launch pad for innovation and the most important event of the year! Exciting new products are introduced and hundreds of thousands of designers and vendors come from around the world to walk the showrooms and see what’s new in the world of design. Having been to NeoCon many times, I can safely say there is a difference of going in your twenties vs. your forties.
First thing to note is that NeoCon is held at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, a building which spans two city blocks. This 25 story building houses showrooms, eateries, and offices. During the 2019 NeoCon, ten floors were dedicated to vendors and showrooms to present their newest product lines. Now keep in mind, the many floors this building has. In your twenties you take the stairs to avoid the elevator lines, but in your forties, you get there early for those elevators because your knees are not what they use to be. Clothing also differs by age when attending. When you are twenty you dress to impress and may even wear the heels, at least on the first day. When you are forty, you base your outfit around your most comfortable shoes, wear comfy, but professional clothing, and make sure to have layers because you are either too hot or too cold and every showroom varies.
As I was walking the showrooms with my colleagues, the main trend that was apparent was the term coined Resimercial- commercial design with a residential feel. This genre of design steps away from the traditional private office space and embraces the open office environment with lounge seating, desking, and collaborative spaces. The design of the furniture paid homage to throwbacks of Mid Century and Retro design. The use of bold color and vibrant patterns hinted that people are ready to take risks in the world of design. Lastly, in almost every showroom, the use of plants provided a calm atmosphere and gave people access to nature while indoors. Click here to see the presentation we gave to our colleagues of what all we saw.
A few things I noticed with my colleagues was that those in their twenties would have been perfectly fine visiting every showroom or wanting to organize showroom tours and visits based on the free giveaway. This works in their favor as Reps want to show off all their companies have to offer. For this forty-somethings I’ve come to have experience with how to take on NeoCon. Showrooms are visited based on projects back in the home office and meetings with the reps are scheduled based on who is helping on current or past projects. I will admit, though, I am not opposed to seeing all the new products and getting the free food and drinks! The Reps do a wonderful job at making designers feel welcome at NeoCon. They want to take you out and show you the town. This not only includes dinner and drinks but typically an after party or even better yet, dancing at a club. When you are in your forties you tend to go out with the sale Reps you are most familiar with for dinner and drinks and then you are more than happy to climb into bed before 10:00 pm. Those in their twenties can be found at the after parties hosted by the different vendors.
One thing that doesn’t change with age though is the fact that EVERYONE wants the coolest bag or best giveaway, and you will go to lengths (and possibly even climb stairs) to get one before they are gone. And no matter what age you are at NeoCon you can’t help but be inspired by all the creativity, design, and people you come in contact with.
We would just like to give a shout out to all the Reps to participated in NeoCon and made our experience an enjoyable one. We know you work hard that week and we appreciate all your efforts to learn your new products, show us the details, and wine and dine us as if we are your only clients. You make the design world go around and we at IDO Incorporated are grateful for your passion and energy!