NeoCon 2022 Showcases Latest Design Trends

Thousands of designers gathered this year at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago for NeoCon 2022, where emerging brands showcased new products and design trends across multiple sectors including office, hospitality, retail, and public spaces.  Listed below are a few of the pertinent trends we saw and how they apply to our clients’ projects.

Bright Colors and Bold Texture

Bright colors made a big splash this year at all the showrooms. We made note of different shades of purple, orange, green, and bright blues. This trend seems to accent with these bold colors instead of pastels we have seen in previous years.

In corporate environments, bright accents can help create a more interesting atmosphere compared to neutral and gray tones office spaces are so well known for. As we work to create a vision for a client, we find color can support the creation of that vision, whether it’s edgy, innovative, or cheerful. If a client is not ready to commit to a bright, bold wall or powder-coated furniture, bringing in these colors through accessories is a good way to experiment.

We also took note of the use of boucle upholstered pieces, bringing a lot of texture to the space. Adding materials or furnishings composed of different textures will elevate and contemporize any space.

Retro Rounded Shapes and Patterns

After years of minimalism design, it appears design trends reflect a return to 70’s inspired design, which is a way of creating a more ‘playful’ and dynamic space. With mid-century modern styles making a comeback in residential spaces, it makes sense that we notice other retro styles come back into the mainstream through shape, pattern, and color.

Research has found that rounded shapes make spaces more inviting – this stems from rectangular shapes and sharp corners mimicking the threat of sharp edges or knives. For us to incorporate this trend into a clients’ space, we’d explore curved furniture, intricate patterns, and earthy, warm color schemes.  This doesn’t just apply to furniture, adding curves to walls and adding archways has the same impact. Through the addition of organic shapes and smooth, soft, edges, a space becomes more inviting as a whole.

Visual Privacy and Neighborhoods

Visual privacy for employees is a top trend within office design.  At the conference, we saw this accomplished via several factors: by providing curtains to break up spaces, and by creating “neighborhoods”.

Neighborhoods are essentially creating different nooks in an open office through dens, pods and booths. Additionally, modular seating featuring high backs or screens is key to creating a ‘neighborhood’. Providing different places to go for different types of work will help employees take control of their day and potentially improve their sense of privacy.


NeoCon 2022 fueled our knowledge of the latest and most exciting design trends entering the marketplace. Any project type can draw inspiration from these trends, whether it be incorporating a bold paint color on an accent wall in an industrial building, adding curved tables/chairs to a grocery dining area, or designing open offices with visual privacy in mind.

About the author:

Angie Leek, NCIDQ, serves on the interior design team and supports national retail and grocery clients. She also collaborates frequently with architectural products vendors to learn about and internally promote the latest materials for our clients’ projects. She graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Interior Design. Email her.