The 42nd annual NeoCon World’s Trade Fair, is receiving a warm reception from buyers, designers and  manufacturers. A sense of economic recovery is percolating through the attendees at this show, which provides a benchmark for trends in contract/office furniture and interiors.

Elevator waiting time is rising, as large numbers of an expected 40,000 NeoCon attendees are already viewing the latest products,
and concepts in office, healthcare, hospitality, residential,
institutional and government environments from more than 700 exhibitors.

NeoCon bills itself is North America’s largest show of contract furnishings for the design and management of the "built environment," and exhibitors have packed 10 floors encompassing 1 million square feet of Chicago's mammoth Merchandise Mart. Attendees include architects, interior designers, facility managers, space planners,
dealers/distributors, manufacturers/reps, corporate real estate
executives, office managers, purchasing managers, project managers,
operations managers, engineers and building owners/managers

Wood products industry manufacturers also number among both attendees and exhibitors, from giants exhibiting modular office components like Steelcase debuting FlexFrame and Elective Elements, or like KI--debuting Unite, and The HON Company debuting guest seating lines.

Among those hosting tours of NeoCon for woodworking industry professionals is Stiles Machinery, which will bring a group to Chicago tomorrow night to tour NeoCon on Wednesday.

Daily keynote speakers include world-famous architect and designer Michael Graves, slated for June 15; designer Margaret McCurr; and
Yves Behar, industrial designer and founder of fuseproject.

This morning's keynoter, Majora Carter, founder of the non-profit Sustainable South Bronx, emphasized the affordability and even profit potential in sustainable practices, including urban forestry. Carter won Federal Greenway Grants to establish gardens along riverbanks in her area. "You have to be intentional about all you create, or bad things will happen," said Carter.

The "green theme" of NeoCon 2010 is seen in earth-friendly materials used in the interiors offerings and furnishings. Wood components mixed with metals and man-made materials are visible. Also evident in dedicated show floor areas like GREENlife and Green Spot with furnishings, many of them wood-based, made with sustainable materials and processes. Several of the NeoCon sessions focus on low-energy LED lighting, some of it being built directly into wood work surfaces. Dr. John W. Curran, a physicist who heads LED Transformations, Inc., addressed the transformation of lighting systems to LED in his morning presentation, "Unraveling Mysteries of Solid State Light," sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Steelcase us showing LED lights embedded in a channel routed into the underside of wood shelves that hang from its FlexFrame workwall. 

Interiors contractor Adrian Massiah, principal and COO of Workspaces LLC, Washington, DC, said he expects good attendance at NeoCon, as the market recovers. Massiah said he sees more demand for interiors that create greener work environments. "This is especially true in government contracts, which we handle," Massiah says, "but that causes it to filter down to consumers as well." His company recently won a contract for placing almost 500 stations at Wright Patterson Airforce Base.
NeoCon 2010 continues through Wednesday, June 16, and runs daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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