NeoCon 2021

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NeoCon 2021

“NeoCon has served as the world’s leading platform and most important event of the year for the commercial design industry since 1969. A launch pad for innovation—NeoCon offers ideas and introductions that shape the built environment today and into the future.” Quote from the NeoCon website.


NeoCon is a very large international commercial construction and furniture show. It has been around for about 50 years, about 1 million sq. feet, 500 exhibitors, and 9 floors, for 3 days at The Chicago Merchandise Mart. Connecting vendors, architects, builders, designers, facility managers, and every other expert involved in a built project. In addition to product demos, there are educational presentations and panel discussions.


One of the new areas of interest for 2021 is biophilic and outdoor. Biophilic Design is including nature in the built environment, small to large plant-based installations, and water features. Think about using 1970s shopping mall “nature installations” in the workplace. These strategies are used for building energy efficiency, clean air production, lower stress environment, and supporting the health of people there. When you blend the outdoors with indoor, materials need to be upgraded to deal with additional moister and specific wear. Furniture, flooring, and finishes have been developed for this less protected setting. Solar lighting and weather-resistant power distribution were a focus.


The top issue was “the virus”, how to prevent it and how to survive. There were, of course, many Plexiglas screen products, others were including copper/silver in their fabrics and finishes. Most of all was sharing your stories, listening, and empathizing. Lots of “what is going to happen next” and less “this is what we are doing now”. Planning, strategizing, and building flexibility were the final result of many conversations.

Should you go?

Don’t spend your vacation money to go to a business trade show that is a tax deduction for a company. If a company will not pay your way, it may not be right for you at this time in your career. Many students or interns get sponsored every year. Travel, lodging, and food are covered by companies that help you learn more about their interests. The key phrase is “their company interests”, the evaluation of investing in your career has nothing to do with you. Work, study, practice, and make yourself more valuable and worth investing in.

You should go if, you are new to the industry and the team you are working with is going. If you have a good size construction project that includes furniture. Many times vendors will invite you to presentations, product demos, and panel discussions relevant to your project.

NeoCon 2021

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