What is not to like about Chicago in June, especially when punctuated by the energy that is NeoCon” The enthusiasm for the city’s summer weather and extra long, sunlit hours is mirrored in attendees’ excitement and anticipation for the latest and greatest in the industry. I actually had the most relaxing NeoCon in my history of attending the show, primarily due to the game-time decision to visit the Merchandise Mart’s residential floors during Monday’s madness, saving the commercial floors for the more tranquil Tuesday. And the peaceful, inspiring keynote presentation by Michael Graves, as well as a pair of comfortable flats, definitely added to the stress-free experience. I regret that we couldn’t bring you our annual list of highlights last month due to a much needed vacation, but we’re serving up 10 of our favorite finds now (in alphabetical order)…
We’re suckers for a showroom full of vivid, serpentine sofas, and Arcadia delivered the eye candy. Designed by Christopher Panichella, the Achella Modular collection stood out from the crowd, getting its groove on with a smooth silhouette and flexible personality. Curved sections – with or without backs and arms – accentuated by ottomans integrated with sleek, low tables to create endless combinations. But wait – their Escala conference room series wasn’t so shabby either. With its recessed in-table Power Vault, two credenzas types, serving cart, media board and media wall, it’s a complete package worthy of your attention.
The Benjamin Moore booth always delivers the goods. And the espressos. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to offer weary attendees their choice of a flavored caffeine injection. And if the aroma of coffee beans wasn’t enough to lure visitors in, their array of green product information was. Their “five reasons to go green with paint” brochure provided a simple, yet informative, overview of all of their eco-friendly lines, and we’ve found it to be a great tool to have on-hand when consulting with a client. And those resilient, lightweight Natura® totes that they were so kindly parceling out sure came in handy to carry our tradeshow booty home.
Classrooms and conference rooms have depended on Claridge’s information delivery systems – otherwise known as write-on surfaces – for years now. Though they’re still kickin’ it old school with more traditional “analog” offerings, just like the rest of us they are embracing technology, running full speed ahead with their Digital Ready™ and eBeam enabled™ Interactive Markerboards. Now educators and office workers can liven up presentations with interactive displays, capturing notes in real time and even sharing them with a remote audience. Despite the name, about the only thing they can’t do is “beam you up” and out of the presentation to the beach Star Trek style.
Even though our industry is moving more and more towards electronic deliverables, interior designers, architects, engineers and contractors still have to communicate with (and deal with) conventionally sized construction drawings. If your office runneth over with stack after stack of these sizeable sheets, then you might want to consider Easi File. Their storage solutions are easy to use, take up less interior real estate than traditional flat files, and prevent “file rage” by making the search for past projects a pleasant experience. Don’t look for them at your local office furniture dealer, though. They only deal directly through their website.
Fusion Tables by Arasmith
It’s a conference table, it’s a dining table, it’s a billiard table! Seemingly from the world of Transformers comes Arasmith’s sleek Fusion Tables. Even non-pool sharks will be quite captivated by how effectively a commercial client can convert their boardroom into a break room or how quickly a residential client can change their dining room into a game room. A spring assisted lift system in each leg takes care of the regulation height issue, and a plastic table liner placed over one of the 12 available premium worsted cloth colors protects it from dining mode spills. And did we mention that the table’s design evokes absolutely no imagery of dogs playing poker“
George Nakashima Woodworker
Words to describe this company’s products: Honest. Meditative. Natural. Pure. Serene. Warm. Zen. In the hustle and bustle that was NeoCon, stepping up to the George Nakashima Woodworker booth was like stumbling upon a mental oasis. The one-of-a-kind benches, desks, coffee and end tables conjure thoughts of Japanese gardens, while the dining tables and seating options nod to both Scandinavian and Eastern influences. What initially appears as simple design truly involves painstakingly detailed joinery, material selection and finishing. Not just for residential applications, these specialty pieces are suited for and sure to inspire calm in spas, boutique hotels, eateries, lobbies and more.
Not only is the company name fun to say, but their product is fun to sit on. ITOKIdesign’s CH series captivated passers-by right along with the 2010 Best of NeoCon® judges, who deemed it worthy of an Innovation Award. Their asymmetrical building blocks have more configurations than a Rubik’s Cube has solutions. OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but their ingenious promotional material does explain that “your imagination creates myriad combinations,” and they’re not kidding. Where can we picture this product being used” College campuses, office collaboration areas, daycare centers, hotel bars…
If we ever lusted after a product, it’s NanaWall. Their sexy sliding and folding “door” options for both commercial and residential applications are impeccably detailed and utilize highly-engineered hardware for smooth operation. What can you do with NanaWall” Generate a seamless transition between the indoors and out with multi-panel systems that stack neatly so that decks and patios integrate into interior environments. Create flexible interior spaces for maximum functionality with various styles of sliding walls, whether solid, translucent or transparent. Open up rooms onto each other during large social gatherings and close tightly back up when it’s time to get back to business.
The good people at Sherwin-Williams never fail to make us want to paint everything in sight, and the 2011 ColorMix™ Forecast that they were promoting this year only made it worse. Broken down into four equally appealing combinations – Restless Nomad, Purely Refined, Gentle Medley and Bold Invention (show here) – these recipes for beauty translated equally well on the giveaway note cards that they were generously handing out in their booth. We don’t want to fail to mention their cool new metallic series, though, which come in smooth, brushed and textured versions. From subtle sheen to rock star glam, they’ve got you covered.
Sometimes a project calls for something different, and Vahallan Papers’ custom hand-painted wallcoverings might just fit the bill. Traditionally used in residential applications, products manufactured with a Class A Fire Rating for commercial use are just a phone call request away. If one of their 100+ standard patterns doesn’t quite do it, custom color options in both their symmetrical and random offerings are available. Installers can even work with you to create a truly unique surface treatment by cutting the papers into different shapes before application. Lastly, it’s durable and easy to repair, which will keep that smile on your client’s face long after you leave the scene.