With more than 500 exhibitors from around the globe, NeoCon 2019(June 10-12) at Chicago’s theMART will present the newest and most innovative products and concepts in the commercial interior design industry, along with educational seminars and exciting events. Here are our picks for 10 things not to miss this year.
1. HiP Awards: Interior Design’s 6th annual HiP Awards ceremony, honoring industry people and innovative products, will take place Sunday, June 9 at 4:30pm at Marshall’s Landing in theMART—with a party to follow. Purchase tickets here.
2. The NeoCon Plaza: This outdoor space inspired by the idea of “The Urban Boardwalk” will debut this year at NeoCon as a new amenity for exhibitors and attendees. Spanning the length of the MART’s South Drive, NeoCon Plaza it’s designed as a collaborative gathering spot offering views of the Chicago River, Riverwalk and the city’s skyline. It will also be the site of product introductions and programming throughout NeoCon.
3. Material Bank Pop-up: Experience the design library of the future within this debut pop-up Material Bank showcase on the 1st floor of theMART. Suite 103.
4. Daily Keynotes: Gain insight into the ever-changing world of design at three keynotes in the NeoCon Theater: “The Familiar and Unusual: An Investigation of Balance and Experience in Design” by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, founders of New York-based Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors (June 10 at 8:00am); “Stuff Matters: The Material World We Make” by Ilse Crawford, creative director and founder of London-based Studioilse (June 11 at 8:00am); and “Do No Harm: The Role of Design in Complicated Times” by Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of New York-based Studio O (June 12 at 11:00am).
5. Living Products Showcase: Tickets ($10, register here) are still available for this Tour of NeoCon’s Healthy and Sustainable Products designed to meet the Living Product Challenge. It will be led by a guide from the International Living Future Institute from 2:30pm-4:00pm on June 11.
6. ID Live: Join Interior Design Editor in Chief Cindy Allen as she chats with designers during two sessions of ID Live on the Grand Staricase at theMART. At 1:00pm on June 10, Cindy will be joined by Heather Bush from Carnegie, Erwan Bouroullec from Skyline Design, and Patricia Urquiola from Haworth; at 1:30 her guests will be Don Chadwick from Humanscale, Ed Barber ad Jay Osgerby from Vitra, and Alain Gilles from BuzziSpace; and at 2:00pm, she will chat with Martin Lesjak and Asastaia Su from Mohawk Group, Guilherme Wentz from Sossego, Aliki van der Krujis from Wolf-Gordon, and Sebastian Salvado and Rios Clemente Hale from Janus et Cie. At 1:30pm on June 11, ID Live will feature Mary Holt and Chase Taylor from Carnegie, Nina Etnier and Brad Sherman of Float Studio for Tarkett, David Allan Pesso of JSI, Todd Heiser of Gensler and Byron Morton of theMART; at 2:00pm, Cindy’s guest will be Jessica Ahlerhing and Casey Keasler of Hightower along with several other designers.
8. Interactive Activations: There will be plenty of installations and experiences to enjoy on every floor of theMART—from Herman Miller’s “All Together Now” (Floor 1, South Lobby) to Snowsound Quiet Zones (Floor 7, Pass-Through).
9. A Strong Hospitality Focus: In addition to two keynotes by executives from Roman & Williams and Studioilse—known for stellar hospitality projects around the globe—NeoCon 2019 will feature more than 300 exhibitors showing hospitality-minded products, among them Andreu World, Sossego Design, Arper, Bentley, and Sunbrella Contract.
10. SANDOW Innovation Lab: Stop by the first-ever SANDOW Innovation Lab to experience several compelling, industry-leading events in this multiuse space: lectures, roundtables, and product demonstrations.
Happy Earth Day! Sustainability is becoming a standard in architecture, and LEED certification is only the beginning. These projects prove that green design is the new frontier.
Spanish firm Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos won a two-phase competition to design this center with their thesis that links music and architecture. Considering the ratio of glass to metal also became essential because of the layers of thermal insulation needed to create a sustainable and easily heated structure. But first Nieto Sobejano decided what the project shouldn’t have: right angles, a main facade, and a discernable front or back. Instead, what emerged was a pattern of “continuous links echoing the trees,” Sobejano says. Read more
Not only is the entire 27-floor external facade wrapped in a natural vine covered sunscreen, but the Oasia Hotel Downtown also has four lush sky terraces, 1,793 large planter boxes, and four large structural cores that allow for good cross ventilation reducing the overall energy cost. Designed by WOHA and completed in 2016, the hotel is home to over 33 species of plants and 21 species of creepers. In addition, the 314-room property is notable for its striking interior design by Patricia Urquiola. Read about 7 more sustainable buildings in Singapore
Two of the most poignant concepts International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach wanted the design to articulate were sustainability and transparency. 3XN certainly delivered; the build is LEED platinum-certified, and has reused 90 percent of the concrete from the previous headquarters that was demolished to make way for the new build. Read more
Six stories high, capped with a 30,000-square-foot roof garden, this contemporary structure “is an urban oasis,”ACDF Architecture CEO Maxime-Alexis Frappier says. ACDF partnered with Architecture49 and their response was not a looming hulk but rather a curving, low-rise presence wrapped in a mirrored facade that reflects its surroundings. Aluminum louvers, capturing sunlight, reflect pixelated images of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. The daylight resulting from abundant glazing contributes to the project’s LEED Gold status, proving Parq fits into the global environment, too. Read more
When a prospective client in Annapolis, Maryland, told Bates Masi + Architects‘ principal Paul Masi that he and his wife had recently purchased a house on the water, he really meant it: The residence’s second-floor deck literally hung right over a cove in the Chesapeake Bay. However, the 1970s structure was sorely outdated, located in the flood plain, and didn’t meet current energy codes. Masi’s solution yielded a new, flat-roofed house, raised three feet higher than its predecessor—and LEED-certified to boot. Read more
The AP staffers have had a chance to settle into their new digs by TPG Architecture, which have since been awarded LEED Gold certification. As you might expect, good news travels fast. As Carmel says, the office “compliments who we are as an organization.” That includes a bit of spirit, as seen at the perimeter of the café. There the white floor tile bursts into a confetti of colors, as if celebrating the much-decorated news agency. Read more
For Neri & Hu, this project entailed repurposing and renovating existing structures—including a former warehouse that now hosts a restaurant, a theater, and an exhibition space—as well as erecting new ones, among them a lakeside pavilion containing four of the 20 suites. “The rustic materiality and layered spaces redefine tradition via a modern architectural language,” says Neri. Read more
When an Amsterdam company that manages a file-sharing platform decided to move from the city center to a warehouse near the city limits, it shared a few tasks with local design firm Studio Rianknop: Create a flexible space for the company’s staff; make it sustainable; and take advantage of the industrial space in a relaxing, inviting way. In a clever nod to the wires funneling data across the globe, a “cable tree” grows from the lower level with branches powering first-floor public spaces and a tubular chandelier. Read more
The Center for Fiction started out as the Mercantile Library in 1821 and moved locations throughout Manhattan over the years. In 2008, it was rebranded, and more than 10 years later, the Center has a permanent home in a LEED Silver-certified building in downtown Brooklyn by BKSK Architects. In the writers’ studio, locally-made custom wool felt panels are perforated with the Center’s logo, an open book. Read more
The Washington, DC office, designed by Perkins + Will, is brimming with features that support health and wellness. One is a circadian lighting system that mimics natural daylight, paired with automated shades that follow the sun’s movement to help eliminate eye strain. The design team also implemented biophilic design strategies, for instance by using a range of natural materials and patterns. Read more
Located in a former textile factory in historic Chelsea, Mohawk Group‘s 13,000-square-foot showroom was designed by Gensler and incorporates LEED and WELL Building Standard qualifications, fully expressing Mohawk’s company ethos: Believe in better. Read more
For McKesson’s San Francisco office, Huntsman Architectural Group went with undeniably contemporary furnishings. Sui generis, however, is a break room’s custom bench, a repurposed conveyor belt hinting at McKesson’s core business. Which brings us to the fact that the premises are going for Well Building certification as well as LEED Gold. Read more
Perkins + Will designed this space to be easily reconfigured as needs change. A feature stair connects the office’s three levels with show-stopping views of the city, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls help foster synergy between practice areas. It was also awarded LEED Gold certification. In all, the office is a balance of functionality and design statement. Read more
For Park + Associates‘s own office, minimal intervention transformed a 1960’s former school into a showcase of clean-lined design, thanks to vintage furnishings, a black-and-white palette, and painted-steel arches highlighting the reinforced-concrete barrel vaults. Read about all 5 global green projects
No longer merely pass-through places, lobbies have become hotel-esque settings. They entice potential tenants to lease, and existing tenants get a perk that might entice them to stay. Such is the case at the Key Center office tower across the water from Seattle. After purchasing the 23-story building, Kilroy Realty Corporation opted to implement changes resulting in LEED Platinum certification and to transform the immense lobby into a “people place,” SKB Architects senior principal Shannon Gaffney recounts. “That’s our thing.” Read more
Italian studio JM Architecture outlined a sustainable agenda to maximize the home’s energy-efficiency. Mosa’s LEED-contributing ceramic tiles, which received Cradle-to-Cradle® Silver certification, join the multitude of eco-friendly features that distinguish the villa, including inlaid photovoltaic panels and radiant floor heating. Read more
Moving to a gleaming LEED Platinum palace in the booming East End, this 117-year-old law firm left behind the endless dreary silos of its former headquarters and embraced a cultural shift toward wellness and ergonomics. Thanks to Alliance Architecture, sunlight penetrates offices with clear glass enclosures, every employee has a motorized standing desk, and the café opens onto a terrace complete with barbecue grills, a fire pit, a bar, and a bocce court. Read more
Meyer Davis Studio was charged with transforming the lower eight stories of a 1968 building into 1 Hotel Miami. “We paid homage to the natural landscape of south Florida,” Meyer notes—versus the art deco razzle-dazzle typically associated with the area. Moves large and small rack up points in the quest for LEED Silver certification. Uses of reclaimed wood represent a virtual forest preserved. Dialing down to details, Meyer andDavis specified organic bed linens, hemp mattresses, and clothes hangers molded from recycled paper, while bedside note pads have disappeared in favor of chalkboards. Read more
It’s basically common knowledge these days that installing a green roof on a building helps reduce its energy use, absorb stormwater, and combat air pollution. This practice has become increasingly mainstream in hotter developed land masses known as urban heat islands. One such is Hengqin island, overlooking Macau. That’s where this sculptural verdant roof tops an art exhibition hall. Read more
From reducing storm water runoff and city dust to energy-efficient cooling, the benefits of green roofing go beyond beautification. As costs lower and technology makes installation easier, this environmentally conscious trend is increasingly defining the facades of both existing and new buildings. A 660-foot-long undulating wave of verdant green grass forms a rooftop park at Université Paris-Est’s technology and science center, the Espace Bienvenüe designed by Jean-Philippe Pargade. Read about all six green roofs
Amid the sea blues and sandy whites of this resort, there’s a good amount of green, too: A solar array generates electricity, rainwater is harvested for maintaining the landscape, and air-conditioning is geothermal. Read more
The unusual configuration of this family compound by Snorre Stinessen, comprising multiple cabins, plays with the way that the visitor slowly discovers what’s hidden behind the wooden doors. Even the outdoor areas remain private, with only waterscapes or trees as neighbors. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of the design, it checks off all the eco-conscious boxes: The forest was protected during the building process, all wood was sourced locally, water is used with restraint, and electricity is primarily hydropower. Read more
When designing for a Super Bowl–sized audience, there’s no greater expert than Loretta Fulvio, lead interior designer for architecture firm HKS’s Sports sector. When tasked with designing the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Fulvio and her team sought to create experiences that extend far beyond Super Bowl Sunday. In the stands, visitors can feel good about making a positive impact: 91 percent of waste is recycled, composted, or donated, due to the concession stands using compostable packaging. And the entire venue is run on wind power. Read more
All apartments in this building have balconies overlooking the central courtyard. Its accessibility eliminates the need for interior, climate-controlled hallways, saving on energy consumption. For the solid faces, Lorcan O’Herlihy employed two materials that contrast each other for visual interest and also help to reduce scale. Siding is fiber cement made of recycled content. Screens, which act as a rain-shield system, are slats of ipe harvested from a local, sustainably managed forest. Read more
Built with prefab panels, this 2,500-square-foot structure by Minarc is sustainable to the max. Bathrooms overflow with eco consciousness. In the powder room, wood scraps stack up to form a vanity supporting a sink in recycled rubber. For a truly back-to-nature experience, right next to the soaking tub in the master bathroom, there’s a lush plant wall. Read more
The built environment accounts for over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. In the majority of the places we live, work and play, research has realized that indoor air quality is more polluted than the outdoors, even in the largest industrialized metropolitan areas. This is cause for concern because humans spend over 90% of our time indoors.
The case for healthy and sustainable materials in this time of turbulent climate change is ubiquitous. Sustainable materials help reduce carbon emissions and nurture the overall health of the planet. Harmoniously, healthy materials produce meaningful eudemonia to the inhabitants of the space.
WasteBasedBrick Composition, StoneCycling
These types of holistic spaces are vital, fundamental to the health and equity of humans and to the health of the planet. There’s also an intrinsic and perhaps even a philosophical need for these materials in our dwellings. In the future, perhaps these materials should become the baseline for all building projects.
A Look at Organizations
There are many admirable organizations that support healthy and sustainable design philosophies, included and not limited to:
- Environmental Design Research Association (ASDA)
- International Interior Design Association(IIDA)
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), founded in 1975, champions that “design impacts lives” and uses evidence-based design and research to demonstrate how.
USGBC began its LEED program mission in 1993. Twenty-six years later, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.
The International Living Future Institute (ILFI), founded in 2009, defines its mission to make communities socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. The ILFI’s Living Product Challenge is a philosophy first, advocacy tool and product certification program that defines the most advanced measures of sustainability in product manufacturing today. The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals:
- Health and happiness
Launched in 2014 after years of extensive research and development across disciplines, the International Well Building Institute (IWBI) strives to revolutionize the way people think about buildings. It explores how design, operations and behaviors within the places where we live, work, learn and play can be optimized to advance human-health and wellbeing. IWBI offers the WELL certification program focused on seven guiding concepts:
The mission for viable buildings starts with the people, processes and products that comprise them.
The Product: A Cascade for Sustainability
Wall finish and flooring selections are fundamental on the six planes of interior selections. Paint color is appointed perfectly with coatings like Sherwin-Williams Harmony, which was a green industry-first in 2001. Harmony meets the most stringent VOC regulations and has achieved GREENGUARD Gold Certification satisfying LEED v4 v4.1 criteria. Its additional qualities of odor-eliminating and formaldehyde-reducing technologies help improve indoor air quality by reducing VOCs from possible sources such as cabinets, carpets and fabrics.
Regarding color for spaces of vitality and retreat alike, Emily Kantz, interior designer at the Sherwin-Williams Company, recommends the following palettes:
“The Electric Exploration palette features the striking Rivulet, Rejuvenate and Izmir Purple. These colors bring energy and life into the space. The Off the Grid palette is a breath of fresh air with the nature inspired colors of Almond Roca, Copper Mountain and Cascades, bringing the earthy elements of the great outdoors inside to give us a sense of health and well-being.”
Mohawk Group has a suite of Living Product Challenge Petal-certified flooring including:
- Lichen carpet plank
- Nutopia carpet plank
- Nutopia Matrix carpet Plank
- Sunweave broadloom/area rug
- Pivot Point enhanced resilient tile
Mohawk Group SmartFlower Installation, Mohawk Group
Representative of the Living Product Challenge, Sunweave’s Petal Certification aims to leave a handprint rather than a footprint. Mohawk Group engaged in a special handprinting partnership with Groundswell to install 10 SmartFlower solar systemsin underserved communities and at educational institutions with STEM programs across the U.S.
George Bandy Jr., chief sustainability officer at Mohawk Flooring North America, considers the designer’s role expanded well beyond the typical project scope to being the connector between carbon and social change. He asks, “How can the designer bring the enormity of the climate change issue to each individual client and make it personally relevant?”
He considers his own place in the design industry as CSO not as a career pinnacle, but instead part of a greater journey that began in the 1990s at the University of Texas – Houston. He served as the Chairman of the USGBC and worked alongside Ray Anderson at Interface before joining Mohawk Group three years ago.
At Mohawk, Bandy also sees himself as the connector – in his case, connecting the dots between the internal and external product creation, between the industry and the community. He envisions the product as a cascade for sustainability, utilizing sustainable practicesthroughout manufacturing, and leaving a lasting, positive social impact on the communities where Mohawk plants are located.
Striving for a circular economy, designers have reimagined, repurposed and reused what was supposed to be waste. A category of new and innovative composites from plastics and other discarded materials has been invented. Foresso is such a composite: a sheet material composed of timber and wood waste from sawmills.
Conor Taylor, creative director at Foresso, says, “We consider ourselves very lucky to get to work with timber every day, the richness of wood adds warmth to interiors and can make any space more welcoming. Nowadays it is hugely important to consider the sustainability of our work so we endeavor to use every part of the tree in Foresso and hope that by doing so we can encourage others to make the most of this incredible material.”
Foresso Charcoal Mono Detail, Foresso
Tom van Soest and Ward Massa founded StoneCycling in the Netherlands in 2013, their shared vision that the need for reimagined waste products was also the opportunity. They created a building material whose main input is the waste output from construction sites, which massively pollute the earth. Their product, WasteBasedBricks, which as an early prototype was conceived in a homemade industrial blender, has evolved – and their circular and sustainable products are being used across Europe and the U.S.
Ward Massa + Tom van Soest, StoneCycling
Also a product of the Netherlands, the tulip may be the single most iconic image from the region. In fact, 77% of the world’s tulips come from this small country of 12 provinces, comprising for roughly two billion tulips. “Strangely, the most beautiful part of the flower, the head, has no economic value except being a coveted photo object of many a tourist,” says Tjeerd Veenhoven of Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. By a process of extraction from what would be the waste residual of the dried flower head, pigment is distilled. Color is a wonder in this artisanal process, and applications range from uses in finger paint to biological plastics.
Tulip Pigments, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven
Mother Nature Engineered
In the quest to save Mother Nature, nature itself is investigated and replicated. Bolt Threads developed Microsilk after studying the silk spun by spiders and produced their own protein. Whereas 60% of fabric fibers are petroleum based, Microsilk is generated mostly of sugar. Bolt Threads has partnered with iconic brands such Patagonia and Stella McCartney. The company currently doesn’t have any specific plans for the interior design material industry, though the brand is excited about what the future holds and will continue to introduce new materials for a more sustainable world.
Bolt Threads Necktie, Bolt Threads
Renee Hytry Derrington, vice president and global design lead at Formica Corporation, reports of the company that the past several years, Formica has introduced a suite of sustainability décor-based products including Reclaimed Denim Fiber and Paper Terrazzo patterns. Reclaimed Denim Fiber is real reclaimed denim fiber made from post-production waste collected at cloth production mills, embedded in paper. No one sheet is alike due to the natural papermaking process, which will be seen as a slight linear direction to the laminate sheet. Paper Terrazzo utilizes small fragments of post-production solid color paper that would otherwise have gone to waste. These paper chips are re-used to create a new paper sheet that is 30 percent reclaimed material. This paper technique uses small-batch craft production so that each sheet is unique and natural.
Bio-based plastics are forecasted to be a $35B business by 2022. Corn starch, sugar, cooking oil and even waste avocado stones are re-engineered for use in this material category. Algae and fungi-created materials will continue to bloom in use and scale. And designers continue seeking solutions reimaging the ultimate waste product – carbon – itself.
“In the future, healthy and sustainability materials will be considered the standard and not called out as special or unique. This will be the result of product designers reusing and reducing waste, considering the human interface and thinking about the environment during the design process,” predicts Hytry Derrington.