NeoCon 2017 – That’s a Wrap!

So another NeoCon has come and gone. Ah, time to breathe a sigh of relief and reflect on a successful event. From the new showrooms to product reveals, elevator lines that everyone loves to hate and a new option for foodies, there was plenty to take in this year at the Mart. Here’s a few subjective thoughts on the show.

Let’s start with an innovative new product, Casper Cloaking Technology by Designtex. First off, the mere fact that a firm know more for unique and premium textiles, would stretch its boundaries and develop a techy product is truly impressive and shows the creative range held by the folks at Designtex. So, what is it? It’s simple – Casper is a proprietary film that applies to glass walls to create privacy for large digital screens. Digital presentations or other sensitive content on large screens can be kept private, while still maintaining the open and clean look intended by glass-fronted rooms. Contract Magazine liked the product so much, they gave it a Gold “Best of NeoCon” award in the technology category. Kudos to Casper!

Switching gears, let’s talk food! Last year’s renovated food court was a much-needed overhaul which opened up the space and added a definitive sense of style and sophistication. This year, Vornado, who owns the Mart, raised the bar with the introduction of Marshall’s Landing. The casual eatery offers a tasty range of breakfast and lunch fare on the lighter side, maybe to keep productivity up (since they welcome laptop campers) or maybe to fit the light and open nature of the space. The whole feel is comfortable, yet techy, complete with “clickers” to hail a waiter whenever you’re ready to order. Check out the avocado chicken salad for a healthy and tasty lunch.

Next up is some overall “wow factor”. With so many great showrooms from our fellow exhibitors, it’s a tough task to pick a favorite – and maybe that’s too strong a word – but here we go….Bentley stood out as always on the smaller side, while Wilson was clean and smart, true to their northwest roots. But this year, Steelcase delivered in a big way. Their showroom was buzzing with energy and the products were crisp and beautiful, yet comfortable and function. Then there was the textile lattice-work, a colorful curved wall made from fabrics, yarn and wood. Simply stunning. It’s clear the team at Steelcase has tapped some next-level creative juice! Check out their creative publication, 360, for more inspiration, thought leadership on the industry and importance of creativity.

Last up, a thought on branding. With so many great showrooms and premium products on display, it’s clear that almost everyone at NeoCon poured many hours and sleep-deprived nights into getting it “right” for the industry’s biggest North American show. So, when we’re walking the halls and see cheap flyers being handed out by temp workers wearing sandwich boards, something just doesn’t add up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not above this type of guerrilla advertising –  it works great at sporting events and street festivals, but at NeoCon? But enough of that, here’s to all those doing it right – focused on the long game, brand building and creating memorable and emotional connections.

See ya at NeoCon 2018!

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