Courtesy of NeoCon
Visitors to this NeoCon showroom examine textiles. The 2023 show embodied its theme, “Together We Design.”

NeoCon 2023: What Facilities Professionals Should Know

June 21, 2023
The commercial design industry’s premier event included high-performance products that can make life easier for facilities professionals. Check out our NeoCon roundup to learn more.

“Together We Design” wasn’t just the theme for NeoCon in 2023—it was a statement. The world’s leading event for the commercial design industry drew together design professionals from around the globe, united in their mission to find top trends and high-performance products to meet every need.

This premier design event also featured many products that can make life easier for building owners and managers, including these three trends we spotted at THE MART.

1. Antimicrobial Materials

Some manufacturers showcased solutions that resist microbial growth, leading to a cleaner indoor environment. Via Seating offered its Copper Mesh Collection, chairs with copper-infused mesh back seating, that both stands up to rigorous healthcare cleaning standards and helps reduce microorganisms on its own, according to lab testing.

Limbo and Bluff, two lounge chairs designed for Heller by Hlynur Atlason, are made out of low density polyethylene (LDPE), which inherently resists microbial growth (and also includes a high percentage of recycled post-consumer plastic). Suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments, both chairs resist decay, splintering and most corrosive substances and generally require only a regular cleaning with nonabrasive soap and water.

“The antimicrobial aspect is vital to Heller, as it marries design, comfort and user safety,” noted Andrew McPhee, vice president of business development for Heller. “For those specifying our products, this attribute provides an additional layer of protection across a range of environments, making it increasingly important in today’s world.”

2. Neutral is Not Enough

Organizations are getting increasingly serious about specifying products with sustainable attributes, and manufacturers are responding to the call. “Neutral is Not Enough,” read a sign in Shaw Contract’s showroom calling for manufacturers to commit to more sustainable practices instead of relying on carbon offset credits.

In addition to highlighting its efforts to reduce its carbon impact, Shaw is also piloting Works with WELL, a designation manufacturers can earn to show that their products align with the WELL Building Standard. Manufacturers provide the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) with documentation proving that their products contribute to some of the features of the WELL Building Standard, and a third-party review process investigates.

“For example, if you have a chair with ergonomic features, what features in the standard does it meet?” explained Simran Narwani, product marketing manager for IWBI. “When you put that chair into a project, what features and concepts does it support?”

3. Accommodation for Neurodiversity and Sensory Sensitivity

KI featured solutions that ranged from the office to the classroom, including two interesting options for neurodiverse kids. The WiggleRoom Super Structure, which came out in 2022, is gaining popularity in education environments as a cooldown space for overstimulated kids thanks to its acoustic properties, according to Jonathan Webb, KI's director of workplace strategy.

WiggleRoom Super Structure was recently recognized by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), which provides evidence-based training and certification on cognitive disorders for education, healthcare, corporate, and travel and entertainment professionals. It is now a Certified Autism Resource, which means that it meets at least one area of the organization’s autism competency standards.

The company also introduced a new rocker accessory for its Intellect Wave cantilever chairs. Easy to attach with a simple tool, the accessory turns the Intellect Wave into a rocking chair, delivering an easy solution for kids who need to fidget.

The solutions at THE MART demonstrated how smart design can make a difference for building owners and managers who need solutions they can rely on. Together, we can design a world that’s healthier and more comfortable for the people in it.

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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