Neoconnect, Trends from Neocon’s Virtual EventKristin Crane
I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like June just wasn’t the same without Neocon. To try and fill the void, organizers produced a month full of virtual content and events called Neoconnect. We attended a few of the seminars and followed along on social media. While it wasn’t the same as being there in person, it was inspiring to see what’s new and what trends are percolating.
What was the focus of Neoconnect?
The #MetropolisLikes product awards given out by Metropolis were all chosen because they stood out for “features that push boundaries of manufacturing technology, enable versatility, and embody sustainability more than ever before.” They may be describing their winners, but it also speaks to the overarching themes of Neoconnect.
Sustainability is clearly more than just a trend, it is now a driving force in the industry. Designers are asking, what is our impact on the environment? How can we change our habits, both personally and as an industry? Also, what is our responsibility as designers to bring about this change? The answers showed up in various different ways.
In addition, you couldn’t avoid the reason Neocon was virtual in the first place. Current events are impacting every aspect of our lives in ways that are truly unprecedented. How (and where) we work changed dramatically in March. In response, designers are wondering how we will all adapt going forward.
5 trends we spotted.
As the look and feel of healthcare facilities has evolved, so have the materials used in them. This global pandemic has brought this issue to the forefront including in spaces beyond just healthcare. Designers are looking at materials and considering if they are antibacterial, water resistant, or bleach cleanable. These materials also need to be durable for more frequent cleaning
Even before the pandemic, spaces were being designed to be more adaptable and versatile. Now, with social distancing to consider, people are thinking about new ways to separate people and spaces. There were a lot of creative solutions for moveable furniture and dividers. Designers are looking to create privacy as needed and foster more flexible work environments. Meanwhile, within those more open and fluid spaces, designers are thinking about acoustics to manage noise in a space.
Health & Wellness
The wellness industry continues to grow, and it means a lot more than just going to yoga or getting a massage. People want to bring wellness into their homes, offices, and public space. For example, they want products created with fewer chemicals and unnecessary additives. In response, designers and manufacturers are creating furniture made without PVC or glue, as well as textiles that are chemical-free but don’t sacrifice performance.
Designers are thinking broadly about accessibility. At one time it might have had a very narrow view focused on physical accessibility. Today, institutions such as museums, libraries and public spaces are looking at what barriers are keeping people from accessing them. Does everyone feel welcome and included? Designers are creating spaces to make it sure everyone has access. Likewise, institutions are looking at their operations to do the same.
As technology has changed, so has manufacturing. At the same time, awareness has grown about how manufacturing impacts the planet. Designers look at how they manufacture their products and are designing for more sustainable manufacturing. This goes beyond just material choices. For example, digital printing and 3D printing now allow for only making what people are buying and reducing inventory.
What did Kristen miss most about Neocon? We asked her!
- There really is nothing like seeing all the new products in person and meeting the makers and designers.
- Having all my industry friends and colleagues in one place. Walking Neocon always feels a little bit like a reunion and I missed reconnecting in person.
- Visiting Chicago! I love that town!
- Easily getting in my 10,000 steps a day goal.
- Getting lots of cardio by taking the stairs and not waiting for the elevators.
Thanks to the Neocon team for doing their best to create a virtual experience through Neoconnect. Let’s hope we see each other again in person in June 2021!