NeoConYes, I attended the largest interior design show annually, and it was my first such experience. Although, as my ORD friend pointed out, not many people from outside of Western MI know about the event, those in the industry, including A&D reps., were out in full force. It was rumored that this was the largest gathering in 4 years. I felt slightly overwhelmed, but all in all, it was manageable. I feel like I have matured a year in contract furniture age just by being immersed in the planning (just a little), set-up, and representation for Steelcase.
The word about NeoCon was environmentalism, vertical markets, Design (with a capital D), and leadership. I say the last term because this is an opportunity to showcase who has the best and brightest, and sometimes the biggest ideas. The leaders in this industry are SCS, HON, Herman Miller, and Haworth with a large smattering of smaller firms that all try and surpass each other in producing the best office furniture. But there is only one firm that truly tries to go beyond the product design, and create an office environment, based on research and best practices, and that is SCS. Sometimes this emphasis shines through in the products as was discussed by a desinger's blog:
But most of the time it is more below the surface, and that is why it is important for those that follow the industry to take note, that the means to leadership is changing. From a design perspective based on aesthetics, to an innovation perspective based on knowledge, the leaders of the new office environments industry will increasingly be imparters of valued information that can transform a workplace. That workplace can be any number of settings, and this is the key for moving in to vertical markets, which is the fact that banking is different from public health, and so on. SCS offers a new initiative to target the Biosciences market that is in part based on the new offering of the Lab Bench product, but it is at least equally about the extensive research that has gone in to understanding the Biosciences market. SCS is alone in this offering. If you want to learn about how the office environments market is growing and where it is heading, look for the leadership trends that emphasize the knowledge and the innovation expertise of the major companies. Here, not just in product design, will you find the true leaders of this coming shift in customer expectations toward holistic development. It just so happens that the biggest may prove to be the winners in this highly evolving market.