The best design debuts from NeoCon 2024

Another tradeshow, another whirlwind of soirées and showrooms to visit. At Chicago’s annual show for commercial design, NeoCon, the schedule was no less stacked with attendees flipping back and forth from Merchandise Mart and the ever burgeoning Fulton Market Design Days. What was the most coveted design at the show? It wasn’t a product on the market per se, but the small tote from Momentum using the new patterns made in collaboration with designer Yinka Ilori. Lines for the elevators and bathrooms at The MART may have been long, but the line waiting to get into Momentum at 9 a.m. sharp to secure the bag was even longer.

Beyond merch, the showings in Chicago proved thoughtful with many manufacturers demonstrating, not just talking about, their commitment to sustainability. More and more products were 100 percent recycled or compostable, and more and more brands showcased their B Corp certifications.

It was also refreshing to see more considerations for accessibility throughout the show. Showrooms displayed more options for ADA accessible work booths and banquettes. The age, and thus needs, of users were taken into consideration for different seating options. Even the ergonomics of a chair, the ways it can trigger medical issues like sciatica or back pain, were the key factors in some designs.

Out of the 14 floors at The MART and the many showrooms at Fulton, here are the best new designs debuted at NeoCon 2024.

Isomi Tejo Sustainability 1
The Tejo comes with an option to cover or expose the cork base (Courtesy Isomi)

Tejo by Isomi

The British manufacturers created a modular and flexible seating system by repurposing cork waste from wine stopper production. Cork, foam, and natural latex replace a plywood frame while natural wool and hemp make up the upholstery. The curving sofa can wind around the space as needed, and it’s made without wasting any offcuts.

Circon is the first bio-based, carbon-neutral wallcovering (Courtesy Momentum)

Circon by Momentum

Momentum’s booth wasn’t all about the latest collaboration with Illori. The very end of the showroom was dedicated to Circon, the first bio-based, carbon-neutral wallcovering. It’s truly sustainable with an algae base that helps sequester carbon during its production and a proprietary bio-base material that is 100 percent renewable that amounts to a fully recycled product with a reclamation program. It’s durable enough for healthcare, hospitality, and workplace applications while also being compatible with customized designs. Even more impressively it’s priced similarly to that of conventional vinyl.

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