Not to brag, but this mammoth building (the biggest in the world until the Pentagon went up) is just a couple hundred yards from our Chicago office. (It’s owned by Vornado, so we hope faithful DC reader Mitchell Schear will be relieved to see it’s still there.) The show is called NeoCon, not because neo-conservatives attend, but because that stands for National Exposition of Contract Furnishings, which features over 1,000 exhibitors.
We snapped Lynn Utter, president of furniture giant Knoll, taking a seat in her prized possession: the “womb chair.” Lynn loves it so much she has one in her bedroom. A trend she sees in this year’s office: open workspaces that facilitate easy shifts from working alone to working collaboratively. Behind Lynn are textiles from the Knoll Luxe Collection by Creative Director Dorothy Cosonas who worked with clothier Guess on five upholstery and three drapery patterns for the Rodarte Collection. Of the six textile mills she uses, one is right here in the US—for those of you who thought all that stuff had gone overseas.
Knoll also unveiled new workspaces designed by NYC’s Antenna Design. Co-founders Sigi Moeslinger and Masamichi Udagawa told us their new collection focuses on sustainability (pieces are PVC and fiberglass free) and more functionality and flexibility with fewer parts and less material. Knoll marketing director Douglas Reuter says the simple structure of the workstations can be used to facilitate and ease the transition between focused work, shared work (between 2-3 people), and teamwork (several people). The dynamic duo took home a Best of NeoCon Innovation Award.
Wood furniture gurus Gunlocke product manager Bryan Crandall and director of product development Jason Wolfanger sit one of their custom workstations. Highlights of the set-up; elevated outlets and cell phone charger cords (no more crawling underneath your desk) and a magnetized, white back-painted glass wall that doubles as a white board. Jason tells us three keys to this year’s products: size, functionality, and aesthetics. Gunlocke also is recognized for its sustainable building, receiving a Bloom Award for environmental excellence. Jason tells us much of its lumber comes from poplar trees that are harvested and planted every 10 years.
Representing MOI, Kerry Gabler, Linsey Jorgenson, and Heather Davis test out the Knoll Generation office chairs (the same chairs that are going in the new Bisnow office). The chairs “let you sit how you want,” moving with your body (and not forcing a “perfect posture”).
Vitra president Josef Kaiser and Vitra Global CEO Hanns-Peter Cohn show off their modified “conference room”—a high-walled sofa-style enclosure that allows for several people to collaborate. The piece fits in with Vitra’s Net ‘n’ Nest concept: a meeting place for collaboration (netting) and a place where employees can go for concentrated working (nesting).
OTJ’s Lida Lewis, Margaret Leither, and Caroline Garrett represented the Washington DC market in the Vitra showroom.
Tuohy Furniture Corp. CEO Bernie Tuohy wasn’t buying the need to cut expenses to make office furniture. Instead, his philosophy is to continue to spend but making each piece more functional (so instead of a six-piece office set, five or four would work). Behind him is a full office area that reminds us of a Transformer the way it switches from a standing wall decoration. Known as the PRATO office solution, it won the Best of NeoCon 2010 Silver Award.
You may recognize some of these faces: MOI’s Kerry Gabler, Hickok Cole’s Annie McCall, MOI’s Judi Miller, Shereen Wooten,Linsey Jorgenson, Studley’s Olivia Millar, MOI’s Khalid Itum, StructureTone’s Joanna Hoffschneider, and MOI’s Heather Davis.