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NEOCON: Phone Booths

NEOCON: Picnic Tables

NEOCON: Acoustics

NeoCon 2018: A Day in the Life of a Designer

Joel Ronschke, IIDA, LEED AP ID+C

July 5, 2018

I wasn’t sure what to expect leading up to NeoCon 2018 since I haven’t attended in more than 10 years. I know attendance has been up and down, but based on the crowd, it was definitely up this year.

Here’s an overview of my experience at NeoCon 2018 and time around the downtown Chicago area.


To take advantage of NeoCon 2018’s location, I arrived in Chicago a few days early to explore the city with a college friend.


One of the coolest things I saw was the recently completed downtown Chicago Riverwalk. The Apple store on Michigan Avenue was our destination along the riverwalk and it did not disappoint. From the expansive glass windows and handrails that seem to float, the building was a great example of how minimalism of materials can lead to an amazing space.


The new building at 150 North Riverside led me to a discussion with one of our structural engineers about how a Tuned Liquid Mass Damper allows this building to stay standing as it does not look like it should.


Monday morning arrived and it was off to a two-day adventure of the world of amazing new interiors furniture and products on display at NeoCon 2018.


As I navigated the crowds, the first major trend I saw was the phone booth concept. Sizes ranged from single occupant up to four-person models.


As the open office continues to get mixed reviews, the need for space to take a private phone call and team meetings increases. This concept is a great way to provide this options in movable space that can be relocated as needed as the workplace continues to grow and evolve.


Check out these phone booth resources:



Collaboration space will continue to be in high demand as workplace design becomes more activity-focused.


There were many iterations of the “picnic table” concept, which brings the height of the popular community table down to a seated height. Creating a picnic table feel creates a comfortable, informal, meeting space for a wide range of people to attend a meeting or a quick touch base.


It was great to see such a wide range of design aesthetics which will allow this concept to be adapted to the wide variety of workplace aesthetic style preferences.


Examples of the picnic table concept:



As the workplace continues to be more open and collaborative, the need for acoustic products continues to grow and provides many options for a variety of spaces.


Acoustic products have evolved into a vast array of choices from fixed materials to movable furniture.


As the need for acoustical privacy increases, the innovative use of materials presents many new ideas and concepts. What was once seen as something you just put on the wall with an “acoustical panel” has now become a design element, along with furniture, that provides a quiet escape from the noise and business of the modern workplace.


Just a sampling of the acoustic options out there:



Overall, NeoCon 2018 was a great experience and brought together a collection of new ideas and perspectives for our designed spaces.


Displays, keynotes, and sessions, combined with the Chicago atmosphere made this event a creativity hotspot.


Looking forward to NeoCon in years to come!


Looking to revamp your current workplace? Let’s talk. We can design a workplace that combines staff desires, business needs, and the most relevant trends.


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