NeoCon has served as a platform for the commercial interior design industry since 1969. It attracts interior designers, manufacturers, workplace planners and over 400 companies who provide some of the most innovative and thought-provoking solutions in commercial design.
2022 served as a call to return to the show after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. And return folks did. The show was well-attended and offered a number of innovative products to learn about.
5 of this years trends as seen by the PURE team are outlined below. Highlights include:
Privacy, privacy and more privacy spaces
Soft materials and rounded edges
Acoustics and lighting
1. Soft Materials with Rounded Edges were very popular. Even if the materials were hard, rounded corners softened the look and feel. 2. Bright Color covered everything. 3. Playful Design found its way into seating, lighting, tables, coat trees, etc.4. Acoustics + Lighting seem to have found a creative union.5. Privacy Spaces continue to evolve. Booths, Chairs, Custom Fabrics, Hangers and Adjustable Height Mini Work Tables (w/tablet holder) were all included.
And that’s a wrap. The PURE Workplace team learned so much at this year’s NeoCon show. It was great to see so many people back in attendance and the energy of meeting with others in the industry was high. What were your takeaways, trends and observations?“This is really reverse engineering of the human spine.” Budd Tucker, University of Iowa. How does the Embody chair aid in Professor Tucker’s mission to cure blindness and leave no one behind? See the inspiring story in the video below.
PURE Workplace’s Kansas City and Topeka offices recently received a facelift. The Topeka branch moved locations and the Kansas City branch had new carpet squares installed over our grey, cement floors. The results: fresh, more colorful offices that boost worker morale and productivity. What we know, and want to share, about color in the workplace is that it has profound effects on our moods and in turn on our office efficiency. Imagine working in a predominantly white and grey space. Grey – the color of cement, missiles, and rocks. And then white – the color of hospitals and bird poop. None of these things inspire me to be creative or work harder. Now you probably won’t believe me when I tell you PURE’s office is largely white and grey. What they lack in inspiration, they make up for in function. White and grey open up the office and make any space feel larger. However, these dull colors need to be balanced with pops of strategically placed blues, greens, yellows, and reds. Green and blue have been found to improve efficiency and focus among people. This means in areas that require hard work and productivity, these hues should be incorporated into the design. Think blue or green desk chairs like the HON Mid-Back Task Chair or the Teknion In-The-Zone Sofas.Warmer colors like yellow and orange are found to inspire optimism and freshness. This should come as little surprise – just think about how you feel on a sunny day. So make the workplace that same sunny oasis in a collaborative space. This could include yellow stools and ottomans from Teknion or colorful carpet squares like the ones PURE just installed from Shaw Contracts and Tandus Centiva. This space will serve as the perfect gathering areas for employees, students, or volunteers to come together and create something creative, innovative, and new. Color can have a profound impact on a person’s mood, and it is our job as designers to channel this power into an environment that cultivates hard work, creative thinking, and personal well-being. This begins with a workplace that incorporates color into the space. You always make sure to turn off the lights before you leave a room. You’ve cut your shower time down by four minutes in order to save water. Maybe you’ve even attached solar panels to your house or drive a hybrid car. And all of these actions are crucial to reducing our carbon footprint and making sure our grandkids can still see polar bears. But if you’re like most Americans, you spend 40 hours a week in an office that might not be transmitting these same values. So it’s important to understand how offices, schools, hospitality or healthcare environments can be just as environmentally conscious as the rest of us. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design organization (LEED) is a worldwide green certification program with the goal of helping buildings become more environmentally responsible. The process is simple: capture LEED points by implementing environmentally friendly resources and in return save money and maybe even feel a little better knowing you’re a good Samaritan. Luckily, PURE has a few tricks for capturing LEED points and earning that platinum (80 points!) certification. In return, you’ll cut down on your operating costs by an average of nine percent within the first year and qualify for certain government tax credits. LightingLED lights require less electricity, last longer than their fluorescent counterparts and emit more light on a dollar for dollar basis. As an added bonus, if you opt for LED lamps versus overhead lights more often, you’ll capture more points in exchange for using less electricity and mercury in your space. Teknion offers a wide range of LED lamps that serve as both task lights and ambient lights, while also maintaining a sleek and modern design. The Zones Arc Floor Lamp will transform a gloomy room into a sunny oasis and give an impression of overhead lighting all within a lamp. The complementary Sanna Lightbar task light will avoid the dreaded cave effect of lighting down a desk because of its unique shape.WallsArchitectural walls put drywall to shame in every aspect of design and efficiency. Teknion’s glass wall systems utilize more environmentally friendly material than drywall, and they are also reusable, making them more cost efficient to both you and the environment. Rather than tearing down and trashing an unwanted piece of drywall, architectural walls can be dismantled and reinstalled in any space to create a more quiet and private work environment. With an option to fit the aesthetic of any office, from colored glass, steel surfaces, or a curved shape, there’s no reason not to ditch the drywall and opt for architectural walls.Furniture Utilizing environmentally friendly furniture doesn’t mean you need to sit on bamboo straw or uncomfortable wooden benches. Kimball has nearly 50 seating lines that all conform to furniture emission standards and are Indoor Air Quality Certified. This means that the materials and production of these chairs have low Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. VOCs sound just about as bad as they are, I mean they are literally named “volatile compounds.” These VOCs can come from fuel emission from vehicles, heaters, or other coal and gas emitting processes – including the factory producing the metal chair you’re sitting in. You will literally breathe easier and cleaner if you opt for Kimball’s certified seating options. Plus those LEED points are an added bonus.Teknion’s Sidewise line of wooden work surfaces and storage received a Greenguard Gold Certification for being made from nearly 100% recycled materials. This unique workspace is designed for the in-between of an open seating room and a private office. It’s a multi-purpose function design of desk and vertical storage, meaning you get the most bang for your buck out of the space (and the LEED points).Technological innovation and ever-changing ideas have become the soundtrack of our world today. And in this era, workplace design must foster this need for efficiency, flexibility, and innovation. Architectural walls seamlessly provide spaces with improved efficiency, design, and sustainability compared to their drywall counterparts.Architectural walls contribute to both the design and function of an office. The result: a space that is both aesthetically inspiring and productivity enhancing. As an added bonus, they’re more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than traditional drywall options. They can be 100% relocated and reused, meaning offices only face a one time cost of purchasing, versus more money and time spent on renovating, reconfiguring, or relocating offices with drywall. Installing drywall also requires a multi-step process, from framing, electricity, sheetrock, and painting, which means money and time can easily be lost during this delicate process. Architectural walls arrive already built on site and face a one-step installation process.Teknion offers three different walling solutions, Altos, Optos, and Focus, all of which welcome natural light and retain a modern look with glass finishes, but differ in the design of the fascias that connect the glass panels. If you’re after a minimal structure with a seamless look of glass, the Optos are perfect, whereas the Altos and Focus offer metal, wooden, and aluminum fascias that create clean lines and visual interest.
These walls also have a Sound Transmission Class (STC) of 35, while drywall typically has an STC of 33. STC measures how well a building partition diminishes traveling sound via decibel reduction, and these walls received an A+ for sound absorption. You’ll also be able to sleep easier knowing you opted for a more environmentally friendly solution to drywall, with the materials of these architectural walls capturing more LEED points for a workplace because of their reusable nature, recyclable materials, and low-emitting production process. But office design is about more than just glass cubes. Design reflects a message and serves a purpose, and this can be exercised through architectural walls. Architectural walls offers different materials, colors, and shapes to guarantee that your office will reflect your message. Whether it’s creativity through a bright color of glass, originality through a steel surface, or a unique curved shape, architectural walls can do so much more than outdated drywall. A makerspace is exactly what it sounds like. A space designed to encourage making, building, designing, and collaboration among students. The movement began with the onset of 3D printing but has grown to encompass all kinds of functions. They can be used for STEM classes like robotics or physics, or they can be designed for art classes like sewing or woodworking. Makerspaces can also be found in community centers, libraries, or any special elective classroom. Their purpose is to encourage creativity, while also creating a systematic way for teachers to assess a student’s creativity. Makerspaces teach students real-world skills like the importance of learning from failure, problem-solving and completing a project. They are redefining what the classroom environment looks like, as they emphasize hands-on learning, collaboration, and technological innovation. So now that we’ve convinced you on the importance of them, the next question is how? How do you cultivate a makerspace environment? Any space can be transformed into a makerspace with the right furniture and design. It should be versatile, mobile, and durable while also aesthetically pleasing and creativity encouraging.Tables Imagine working at the Smith System Interchangeable Squiggle Table while sketching the blueprint for a remote control car. The curves of the table might inspire you to think beyond straight lines. The ample space might allow you to draw six different drafts. The 20 color options might remind you of the outdoors. These unique tables are perfect for a creative makerspace, instead of traditional rectangular tables. Their curved shape also means they can be pushed together and arranged in a variety of different configurations to provide even more collaborative space.On the other hand of a colorful and creative aesthetic is an urban and industrial inspired makerspace. Versteel achieves this design with its butcher block topped tables and steel constructed stools. Whether it’s a utility table and stools to sit in the center of a makerspace, or a mobile whiteboard to travel around the room for collaboration, Versteel’s Maker Project offers a series that exemplifies the maker movement.ChairsIf there’s one theme apparent in the maker movement it’s mobility and versatility. And seating options should not be overlooked when crafting the perfect makerspace. Chairs with wheels are crucial, like the Smith System Plato Mobile Stack Chair, which can also be easily stacked and put to the side when more space is needed. Another flexible seating option is the Smith System Oodle Stool which offers five different colors and can be stacked on top of each other to accommodate different heights.Other choices include Versteel or Hon Stools and Perch Seats to facilitate a sit-to-stand work environment. Sometimes the best way to get the creative juices flowing is to also get the blood flowing. Sit-to-stand desks and chairs allow for easy reconfiguration between sitting and standing while creating a flexible work environment.Storage Makerspaces, with their energetic and dynamic environment, require some sort of dividers to split the room into zones. Whether the zones are divided by quiet versus noisy, clean versus messy, or individual versus collaborative, strategically placed storage can create this organized chaos. The Smith System Cascade Storage Bins provide customizable, mobile storage options. This line offers options with whiteboards, pegboards, or notepads attached to the side in order to maximize the uses for these storage systems. Whether you’re trying to store reams of paper or soccer balls, the Cascade System has a customizable option to fit anything.Instructor Equipment Depending on the functionality of a makerspace, instructor equipment could be a vital peace. In a classroom setting, a teacher will find themselves constantly on the go. This means rather than a desk, instructors will need mobile carts. The Smith System Cascade AV Mega-Case is the perfect all-in-one to replace a traditional desk. With five interior outlets and four exterior outlets, it can hold anything from a laptop to a 3D printer to a projector. It also has storage shelves, locking doors, and a durable worktop.
Gone is the quintessential classroom made up of a teacher standing by the blackboard with rows full of dreary eyed students sitting in uncomfortable metal chairs. In its place is the 21st Century classroom equipped with tablets, smart boards, and furniture to facilitate a collaborative and engaging work environment.
Imagine a world where kids want to come to school. A world where desks are complete with tablet charging stations. A world where chairs are actually comfortable to sit in. That galaxy isn’t so far away. Modern classrooms emphasize the importance of hands-on learning, collaboration among peers, and the use of technology. And all of these needs can be met with an effectively designed learning environment. One important facet of these changing needs is flexibility. The Teknion Learning Tables are perfectly designed for easy reconfiguration. Their linking option means it can stand alone, or it can be linked with others to facilitate group learning. The wheels also make it easier to move around the room. It even comes with a charging stand and cup holder – I told you that galaxy wasn’t so far away.Another way to meet the need for a hands-on, flexible classroom is the Teknion Mobile Markerboard. This whiteboard on wheels not only allows for more small group collaboration among students but also serves as a room divider when needed. The latest and greatest for flexible classroom seating is the Oodle Stool by Smith Systems. These cylinder shaped seats provide students with control over their learning environment. By flipping the base of the seat over, the Oodle can be flipped from a flat, sturdy seat to a rocking base that provides students with more movement when they start getting fidgety. Students also aren’t stuck with one height or one color; they’re stackable and available in five different colors.Designing a classroom that fosters student engagement requires furniture that focuses on flexibility, collaboration, and technological innovation. All of these combine to create an environment students want to be a part of. Remember that feeling you get when the sun finally comes out after a weekend of rain. After spending a couple days hibernating in bed with whatever you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix, a surprise visit from the sun feels rejuvenating. You ditch the TV and go for a run (or maybe a walk). You finally get around to cleaning out your garage. You’re enthused with a new feeling of happiness and productivity all because of the light. Offices face this same phenomenon. A dreary, fluorescent-lit office screams prison, and no one wants to feel like their cubicle is synonymous to a jail cell. Gloomy and dim lighting makes the workplace seem unpleasant, which can ultimately decrease employee morale and productivity. Studies have shown that improved lighting can increase productivity by 10 to 50 percent. This improved lighting comes in two forms: ambient and task lighting. Think of ambient light as light for people, and task light as light for work. Both need to cooperate in order to achieve success. Ambient light’s goal is to illuminate the room. The Koncept Z-Bar Pendant is a unique solution to outdated overhead lights. This customizable pendant is complete with sleek, floating bars that can be rearranged into different shapes according to your preferences. And as an added bonus, its LED lights mean you’ll capture some extra LEED points for a more eco-friendly workplace.LED lights also have a blue base, whereas fluorescent lights are more yellow based. Blue light triggers our ganglion cells, which tell the body to wake up and stimulates alertness. Nevermind that extra cup of coffee, just turn on a few more LED lights. The second half of a beautifully lit office is task lights. Lighting solutions like the Teknion Conflux will transform any gloomy office to a sunny oasis for employees. Complete with LED lighting for a more environmentally friendly alternative and wireless charging portals, this task light perfectly enhances workplace design and efficiency.However, when choosing task lights it is important to avoid the dreaded cave effect. Lamps often light desks downward, which leaves the surrounding walls and floors dark. Upward facing lighting will create that open, airy office you should be striving for. Humanscale, WorkWell, and Koncept all provide innovative task lights that will reduce glare effects, enhance sustainability, and promote productivity. Think more sunshine, less rain. So flip the switch on those dingy lights hanging above your head. You’ll feel better, work better, and maybe even look better. Workplace design has the power to help or hinder productivity. One main facet of this is workplace acoustics. The chatter of conversations, typing of keyboards, and clicking of pens can distract employees and ultimately decrease their productivity. Studies have shown that once an employee is distracted, it can take up to 20 minutes for them to fully regain their concentration. A distracted employee is also more likely to make an error while working. So in the day and age of open offices encouraging employees to interact more, we are deemed with the task of mitigating these negative side effects. The solution to this lies in the ABCs: absorb, block, and cover sounds. Open offices often occupy large rooms with hard surfaces for walls, such as brick, glass, or cement. Sounds reverberate and echo off these materials, requiring softer materials to counteract these hard ones. This could come in the form of rubber flooring, carpet, or ceiling tiles. These materials absorb any noise pollutants and diminish the negative side effects of an open office. Wall partitions can also be used to block sounds. Open office spaces are perfect for increasing employee interaction and cooperation, but wall partitions can create that necessary private, quiet space for a distraction-free zone. Altos, Optos, and Focus are all architectural glass wall systems that allow for the customization of offices to facilitate acoustics and design. To cover the noise, air conditioners, heaters, or sound systems will all do the trick. The Lencore White Noise System achieves speech privacy via a spectrum of ambient background noise which masks conversation, keyboard clicking, and other distractions. This white noise combines every frequency of sound, much like the color white combines every shade of the rainbow, to create a symphony of sounds that make it impossible to be distracted by any other audible sound. Stéphane Pigeon, an engineer of natural soundscapes, travels the world collecting new sounds like waterfalls, wind blowing, or insects (yes, such a job does exist). In doing this, Pigeon is designing white noise out of natural phenomenon with the goal of reducing stress, increasing focus, and improving learning. So keep the open office design, but remember the final touch: workplace acoustics. No one wants to listen to your clicking pen or chatter about what you made for dinner last night while they’re trying to fill out an expense report.
It’s Monday morning and you’re walking into the office with a green juice in your hand and a package of protein balls in your bag. You’re the epitome of the ever-growing health trend, and for good reason – who doesn’t want to live to be 95 with wrinkle-free skin? But no matter how many green juices and protein balls you consume, sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen from 9 to 5 every day will not bless you with eternal youthfulness.
Hence the need for a healthy workplace environment. This doesn’t mean weekly office yoga sessions, but an office that promotes physical and mental wellbeing via ergonomically designed furniture. This kind of healthy office has lasting benefits, not only for employees’ health but also for company productivity.
A quick and easy way to fix the sitting all day dilemma is sit-to-stand desks. These high tech desks can be adjusted to different heights with the touch of a button. Whether you’re exhausted from your morning exercise class and need to sit down, or you need to get the blood flowing and the heart rate up, these desks can accommodate a healthy workplace for anyone.
So allow a few hours each day to stand at your desk. Start first thing in the morning to get your heart rate up early and to kickstart your metabolism. Then stand again after lunch. Studies have shown that after eating a meal, blood sugar levels return to normal, faster when standing versus sitting.
In between these hours, add a perch seat to complete your ergonomic desk. These tall, backless chairs relieve pressure on your spine after standing and provide an adjustable complement to sit to stand desks.
Another quick fix to boosting workplace health are Zenergy or Runtz ball chairs. Once upon a time, the biggest health trend sweeping elementary schools nationwide was replacing desk chairs with aerobic exercise balls. The ball chair is essentially the office version of the exercise ball in the classroom. Its lack of a back promotes better posture (goodbye 80-year-old hunchback) and it’s less stable center increases core strength (hello spring break abs).
So keep drinking your green juices and eating your protein balls, but don’t forget about the importance of a healthy work environment. Your 95-year-old self will thank you later.