June 28, 2022

NeoCon Through the Eyes of a First-Time Attendee

By Bri Schoepf | Marketing Communications Associate


I was about to embark on my first ever NeoCon journey. If you haven’t heard, NeoCon is the most popular event of the year for the commercial interior design industry, showcasing innovative workplace solutions from more than 400 leading companies.

Before arriving at NeoCon, I had no idea what to expect. In my mind, I was envisioning a typical trade show setup. You know, like a big convention center with a variety of products set up all over the place? But, wow, I could not have been more wrong!

As I walked through the front doors of theMART (formerly The Merchandise Mart), I was excited, a little overwhelmed and extremely curious about what I was soon going to experience. I immediately observed how massive this building was in real life (which was way bigger than it looked in the photos that I searched beforehand). I admired the beautiful entrance and lobby area, while scanning the crowds of energized people discussing which showrooms they were most looking forward to seeing this year. I couldn’t wait to see for myself what everyone has been talking about the past couple months leading up to NeoCon.

We went up the elevator to the 3rd floor and I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. If you are also struggling to visualize NeoCon, picture a huge mall, but with beautifully curated showrooms instead of stores. Imagine floors and floors of stunning showrooms, displaying a range of the latest and greatest furniture, flooring, textiles, wallcoverings and more, for commercial interior spaces. It didn’t take long for me to realize why everyone talked so highly of this event and why they were so thrilled to come back this year.

Steelcase’s showroom was the first one that I visited. Before even stepping foot inside, I was amazed as I peered through the big glass windows of their space. I caught a glimpse of colorful furniture, dazzling light fixtures and fun workplace accessories. After walking through the entire space, I was not only blown away by all these amazing products in one place, but I loved being able to touch and see the products in person compared to my previous online-only experience.

From there, I explored the Steelcase family of brands – who by the way – were NeoCon award winners again! Steelcase’s Karman chair won an Interior Design HiP Award for task seating, Steelcase Learning’s Tenor chair won Best of NeoCon Gold in education solutions, and AMQ’s Amobi Collection won Best of NeoCon Innovation Award in furniture systems. Lastly, HALCON’s HELM table won Best of NeoCon Gold in both conference tables and height-adjustable tables, as well as Best of Competition. I’m so glad I got to see these award-winning products for myself and learn how they can be used in physical work and learning environments.

Of course, I also ventured to the other floors to explore more incredible products from our vendor partners. As I made my way through each showroom, I sat on almost every lounge piece, tested out every chair, felt the fabrics with my own hands, observed the different types of tables and desk systems, and saw firsthand the endless possibilities of work settings. That certainly isn’t something you get to do every day!

While many of the vendors at NeoCon offered similar products, the way I felt in each showroom greatly differed. I was amazed at the amount of time, effort and level of talent that must have gone into designing each piece and pulling it all together to create a remarkable space – all while differentiating themselves from one another.

Although each showroom was one-of-a-kind, I noticed a few common trends…

  • Vibrant colors, including shades of yellow, orange, pink and purple
  • Fun, bold patterns
  • Eye-catching light fixtures
  • Lots of biophilia (plants and greenery as accessories and incorporated into the furniture)
  • Neon signs and signage featuring inspirational phrases
  • Stylish acoustical elements
  • Eco-friendly and recyclable products
  • Cozy, residential-looking products and spaces


Neocon favorite interiors


Aside from being exposed to lots of cool products and workplace trends, one of my favorite parts of this whole trip was getting to bond with my amazing NBS teammates outside of the office. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that many laughs were shared, many fun moments were had, and many memories were made.

After three days of wandering the floors of theMART, of course I was exhausted. But it was the good kind of tired that was just a small part of the entire experience, and I would jump at the opportunity to do it all over again. I’m happy to share that my first ever NeoCon tremendously exceeded my expectations and is one that I will remember forever!

Until next year, Chicago…