Unveiling NeoCon 2024 Trends

NeoCon is the largest commercial interior design exhibition and is annually hosted in Chicago, Illinois. NeoCon 2024 gathered over 400 leading companies and professionals from across the country to learn about the most innovative and creative solutions that strive to push the industry forward. BRR attended this year’s NeoCon exhibition to discover new trends and draw inspiration from the revolution of creativity and progress happening in interior and office design.

Interweaving Residential & Office

In the wake of hybrid work schedules, office characteristics began to appear in the homes of employees around the world. Now that professionals find themselves back in the office, the residential tone has accompanied them in the form of inviting colors, softer furniture, warmer lighting and a focus on comfort overall. These spaces now draw inspiration from one another to make the workplace a comfortable and inviting environment.

Previous office color trends strayed toward muted, neutral tones that provided a monotone experience for employees. Current and upcoming design trends focus on vibrant, playful colors to implement design and convey a brand’s unique personality. Companies now implement creativity into office environments and color is the easiest medium to set the tone within a space while making a big impact.

Creativity is also on the rise in the form of two-tone workstations, curved features and soft textures. Sharp, buttoned-up characteristics have been cast aside in favor of soft, rounded details that mimic environments outside of the workplace. For example, designers draw inspiration from the natural world through living walls and color tones like earthy greens, terracotta reds and soft wood hues. Hospitality elements are applied to the modern workspace as well with inviting community spaces that encourage professionals to gather and collaborate away from their desks.

As companies and designers embrace the shift towards residential-influenced design, comfort is prioritized with flexible seating, multi-functional spaces, décor and plants. All of these elements combine to foster an environment that supports productivity and wellness.

Minimize Sound, Maximize Square Footage

Modern offices have pivoted from the age of rooms having a singular, designated purpose. Pod rooms – enclosed spaces that maximize square footage and flexibility – are replacing large, sterile conference rooms.

Pod rooms supply separation and privacy for meeting hosting and make the most out of an office’s square footage. These pods cut off environmental noise and are engineered to be soundproof. Modern pod rooms allow the adjustment of light settings, air conditioning, heating and more to allow each user to customize and create their own personal environment where they can perform their best.

These noise-isolating spaces are a result of the larger discussions happening around designing for neurodiversity. The importance and awareness of considering all five senses through the design process is on the rise.

Let's Talk Tech & Sustainability

Two primary topics led discussions at NeoCon 2024: technology and sustainability.

In the modern era, most meetings are held virtually and communication in the workplace relies on technology. Whether teammates are down the hall or on the opposite side of the country, it’s important to be able to communicate when needed. What companies find vital now is being able to create connection, despite the barriers distance presents.

Technology is being utilized to create personalization through larger monitors that allow meeting attendees to appear full-scale and life-sized as though they’re sitting at a table. This new technology provides something along the lines of a 3D experience for teammates and helps to build connection for the remote era.

When it comes to sustainability, companies are taking the opportunity to showcase their action plans for the present and for the future. Many companies adhere to the large trend of using recycled materials to create furniture. We found furniture pieces made from hemp, seaweed and other organic materials throughout the convention. This is largely due to the “circular design” trend: where materials are able to have a second life after they’re done with the first iteration and form.

Lasting Impressions from NeoCon 2024

When designers create future office spaces, it’s important to maximize square footage, but also focus on areas being adaptable. Engaging users is a vital element of going beyond creating an average workspace. Spaces must be approachable while still being versatile for teammates. Designated gathering spaces need to provide a welcoming environment that encourages productivity while still being design-forward.

Exhibits at NeoCon 2024 showed that color can be bold and imaginative, and that modern aesthetics can be achieved while implementing sustainable options. The commercial space is a rare opportunity to combine great design with functionality and allows interior designers to test new technology and ideas for the employees of the future.

About the Authors

Amy O’Leary is based in Kansas City and has worked on different project types throughout her career, including grocery, industrial, office, health care and multi-family nationwide. If you’re interested in reaching out, you can contact her via email at amy.oleary@brrarch.com

Maddy Westcott is based in Kansas City and received her masters in interior architecture and product design at Kansas State University. Email her today at maddy.westcott@brrarch.com