Workplace Trends from NeoCon 2022

NeoCon is arguably the largest and most important commercial design showcase in the world. Every year, with a few recent exceptions, the biggest names in furniture, technology, fixtures, equipment, and everything else you can imagine related to design, come together to showcase their latest innovations and predictions for the future. For a furniture designer such as myself, NeoCon provides an opportunity to better understand the trends we’re likely to see over the next year. It’s an opportunity to see where the industry is headed and ensure we’re staying abreast of the latest and greatest trends and technologies. 

NeoCon 2022 was a nice bit of continued return to normalcy. As odd as it sounds, it felt fairly nice to be back in a maze of showrooms filled with large groups of people – not something I would have imagined as being “enjoyable” when I was last in the Mart in 2019. Along with reacquainting myself with overcapacity elevators and long lines, here are a handful of things I noticed as I ventured through Neocon this year.

Trend 1: Modularity and adaptability.

There seems to be a larger emphasis on being able to adjust space as needed to fit the task at hand. This includes mobile workstations for individual work, as well as modular lounge pieces that can be shuffled and moved for larger teams. The opportunity for people to be able to make space theirs as needed is definitely something to keep in mind moving forward when creating furniture plans.

Photo credit: Haworth

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Photo credit: OFS

Trend 2: The return to the workplace is still evolving.

People are still trying to figure out the best place to work – whether it be at home, in the office, or somewhere in between. And the need to support that evolution is active. There were plenty of options for both individual hoteling stations (which isn’t new), but building them in with lots of adjacent breakout collaborative space (semi-sheltered lounge settings) and individual spaces for privacy (modular phone booths and small conference rooms) should entice workers to find their best place in the office. Adding in a more featured sense of residential feeling, furniture and comfort helps too.

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Photo credit: OFS
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Photo credit: Hightower
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Trend 3: Virtual presence is evolving too.

Along with the ability for nomadic/transient/mobile workers to find a spot to work in the office, the ability for those that are still working away from the office to have a digital seat at the table was also something that people are trying to solve for. Incorporating more sheltered spaces that include technology and virtual presence was definitely on display (literally) and the ability for furniture to incorporate technology more seamlessly is going to continue to be more and more important moving forward.

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Photo credit: OFS
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Photo credit: OFS

Trend 4: Acoustics are important.

Supporting the previously noted mobile and virtual workers with a better management of sound in the office is important. Solutions for including more acoustic materials throughout space were on hand including mobile and fixed screens, ceiling clouds, and white noise technology. All while also keeping a sense of visual appeal in mind as well.

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Photo credit: Buzzi Space
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Photo credit: Kirei
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Trend 5: Biophilia is still critical.

Whether it was an actual living moss wall, floral patterns on wallcoverings and upholsteries, or simple arrangements set on tables and casework,  one thing was clear – incorporating elements of nature is still a dominating design feature. And it makes sense as we continue to focus on health and wellness in the workplace – these features help to reduce stress and help add levels of calm to the environment.

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Photo credit: Buzzi Space
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Photo credit: Scandinavian Spaces
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Trend 6: Soft corners.

Sharp 90 degree corners were hard to find this year. Everything from tables and chairs to cabinets and phone booths – soft corners were definitely….. around.

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Photo credit: OFS
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Photo credit: Buzzi Space