The latest commercial design & furniture trends: What’s new at NeoCon

Posted on: June 17, 2019

NeoCon2019CHICAGO – For 50 years, NeoCon has been the place to learn about trends in the commercial furniture design industry. Two members of Cooper Enterprises’ sales team walked the 10 floors of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart to see what is new in office, education, healthcare and hospitality design.

How does NeoCon relate to the wood manufacturing industry? When walking through the crowded showrooms of the major furniture companies like Haworth, Steelcase and Herman Miller, we noticed the emerging popularity of design elements that are appearing in our current jobs. Below, we’ve compiled a list of our findings.

Cooper Enterprises’ Top 5 Commercial Furniture Trends:

1. Sloped edges and thin surfaces

The appearance of thin tabletops, especially for office furniture, was featured in the NeoCon showrooms. These tables had thin edges, similar to knife edges, but underneath the table, the wood sloped downward from the edges toward the center. Thus, the tabletop is made of a thicker panel than what is visible at first glance. This gives the look of a thin table but comes with the strength and stability of a thick panel. Table thickness trends have greatly changed in the last decade, as thick tabletops were popular 5-10 years ago. The Potrero415 table made by Steelcase is an example of the thin design.

2. No more straight linesTable

Another work surface trend we noticed was the lack of straight edges. The tables we saw had curved edges and non-rectangular shapes. Work surfaces are becoming more ergonomic, such as Haworth’s LEDGE table.

3. Privacy meets functionality

As open office floor plans have risen in popularity, so have private workstations. More and more companies are selling privacy pods and phone booths that allow employees to have private, quiet places to work. Additionally, furniture companies are creating more products that promote privacy, including comfortable chairs with privacy panels. Products like these are becoming the furniture staple on college campuses. As we’ve seen in the past few years, much of the furniture is height adjustable.

4. Earthy tones

Earthy Colors_Cooper EnterprisesInterior spaces are decorated in natural-looking colors and wood grains as biophilic design is trending. Biophilic design brings the natural world indoors and connects people to the world outside. On the contrary, many showrooms featured white, high-gloss laminates. While bright colors are still popular for certain environments, earthy tones will continue to make their way into the design space.

5. Exposed plywood

Designers love plywood, and we saw many tables and shelving that had exposed plywood edges paired with a colored laminate or veneer surface. Some of these tables were not made of plywood but had edgebanding that gave the look of plywood.

What trends are you seeing? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact us to start a conversation.

If you have any projects that feature the listed trends, Cooper Enterprises can help you with manufacturing. With our CNC routing capabilities and material offerings, we can easily fabricate these elements to meet your requirements.

Merchandise Mart NeoCon NeoCon 19

Pictured: NeoCon at the Mart in Chicago

*Disclaimer: Product mentions and links in this article do not imply endorsement; they are provided as examples and sources for further exploration. 

Blog by Rachel Brumenschenkel, Marketing Specialist

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