IMG_E4127 Cumberland Showroom - Jeff Allor
IMG_E4549 OFS Showroom
June 24, 2019

First Time NeoCon Experience

Shared by Jonathon Dugan, Workplace Associate


As a new NBS team member and young workplace associate, I had never experienced NeoCon, the industry’s largest commercial design expo in Chicago. I learned about the importance of NeoCon for my career from my fellow colleagues and was eager to witness the innovative products and solutions for myself. The only vision I had of NeoCon was thousands of people running around talking about furniture. Come to find out, the experience was much more than that.

On Monday morning, bright and early, I hopped in the cab and hit the road to the Merchandise Mart. After checking in, we headed to the first stop on our itinerary which was Steelcase to begin a three-day packed itinerary. Having the ability to see the furniture and workspace designs in person truly altered my understanding of how to use them in spaces for our clients looking to accomplish specific work environments.

Each showroom carried a unique message behind it that was supported by the products they displayed. As workspaces evolve, the importance of offering flexibility, comfort, and privacy are key to attract and retain a new era of employees. Today, there is an increasing importance to create work areas that can fit the needs of individuals and that bring the home like environment to work. All these innovations give designers the ability to create an adaptable, customizable workplace that increases comfort, productivity, efficiency, engagement, and maximizes real estate.

Three tips for a first timer at NeoCon

1. The most important, wear comfortable shoes and save the fancy shoes for the vendor festivities.

2. Second, start on the top floor and work your way to lower levels. This will prevent you from waiting in the long elevator lines and/or climbing up the stairwells.

3. Third, have a set agenda of what showrooms you want to hit. The Merchandise Mart is huge and you can easily get distracted in a showroom for hours. NeoCon even has a mobile App to help you accomplish this.


To wrap up, my experience at NeoCon 2019 was inspiring, educational, and overwhelming. But I can’t wait to go back next year! This will allow me to see how the industry is evolving. I highly recommend designers, clients and industry peers to go to NeoCon, at least once if you have not. See you next year!