By Carey Poole, Vice President, Interiors Project Management team
NeoCon, the annual contract furniture market, took place earlier this month at The Merchandise Mart Chicago. To the surprise of many, attendance at the conference was not dismal and appeared to be up from last year though still off from the mid-2000s.
It seemed that most everyone was offering their version of “benching” as workstation configurations. If low panel set-ups scared some before, these benching systems work off virtually no panels at all. The idea is to maximize the amount of space per person by offering only the required paper and personal storage. Emphasis has been placed on work tools that support technology. Monitor arms for single or multiple monitors as well as adjustable armed LED task lighting were supported in just about every vignette.
There were several seating introductions. Paoli introduced a comfortable and visually appealing conference chair. This “Svelte” chair was particularly comfortable on the showroom floor in leather. Haworth’s “Very” task chair offers task seating with arguably the same comfort level as the popular “Zody” task chair with a few less options and about $100 less. Geiger and Bernhardt introduced attractive wood guest chairs while Steelcase showed an exciting option for classroom seating called the “Node” chair. The Node is available with or without a tablet arm and offers various accommodations for the wiggly learner.
The fabric introductions were beautiful. Many manufacturers drew their inspirations from the fashion world including Designtex and Knoll. There were several wool fabrics shown – the ultimate in sustainable fabrics. For flooring, InterfaceFlor’s Memphis to Milan was a fun, also sustainable introduction. Shaw Contract, along with several others, introduced an 18 inch-by-36 inch tile to further the design and give more options.
Overall, there seemed to be a vibe of cautious encouragement. We even had to wait for an elevator a few times this year.
Carey Poole brings more than 25 years of interior design and management experience to Carter's Interiors Project Management and Relocation Services group and has designed and managed a diverse set of projects ranging in size from 3,000 square feet up to 1 million square feet. She is well-versed in programming, space planning, furniture integration and layout, budget consulting, personnel management and contract negotiations with added experience in strategic and long-term planning and forecasting with added time spent in both first and second generation space up-fitting. In addition to two undergraduate degrees, Carey holds the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications accreditation and has been active in the Atlanta community through IFMA, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Junior League of Atlanta.