Architecture & Design and Manufacturing

Area manufacturers descend on Chicago’s NeoCon

Commercial design industry trade show offers businesses opportunity to display latest products.

June 9, 2017
| By Pat Evans |
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NeoCon
Virtual reality users are able to view renderings such as this in their headsets. Courtesy Configura

For West Michigan’s office furniture manufacturers, this week is about showing off their new products and brand refreshes.

Companies often show off their most anticipated projects and reveal new products from the past year at NeoCon in Chicago. NeoCon starts today, June 12, and ends Wednesday at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

“NeoCon is always special, it’s like writing a term paper,” said Mark Kinsler, president at Holland’s Trendway Corp. “It builds and builds and you have to get a lot of stuff done in the last few minutes.”

Trendway is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and Kinsler said the company is welcoming a return to moveable walls. NeoCon provides Trendway an opportunity to show customers and wholesalers how the variety of products it has work in a real environment. He said there’s a pendulum swing back to privacy, not while working but for phone calls or smaller collaborative work.

The product segment is growing at a clip between 30 and 40 percent.

“You do your work throughout the day, and there’s multiple environments to do the work, and visual and acoustic privacy is an issue,” he said. “We’re in a unique position because there’s not many players in the product segment.”

Spring Lake’s izzy+ is using NeoCon as an opportunity to show a refresh in the segment it has led since 2001, said Jeff Vredevoogd, izzy+ vice president of sales and marketing. Izzy+ was a pioneer in the optimization of third space in office environments, but the industry has caught up and recognizes the importance of café and lounge areas in offices.

“We’re just hoping we can help people reimagine izzy+ as a brand,” Vredevoogd said. “Izzy+ was a lead voice, and over the years, we’ve seen that evolution of the third place. What’s great about izzy+ is we saw that evolution at a higher percentage, and it continues to show credibility and viability for izzy+ as a brand.”

Izzy+’s exhibit will showcase its constant desire to push customer boundaries, said Katie Ostreko, director of product management.

“We’ve always been where the market is going,” she said. “The third space, we were there before any major competitors. So, it’s continuing to push those boundaries and what our customers expect from us.”

The industry also will get to see where companies are headed by visiting multiple booths focusing on the technology of the furniture industry.

Swedish-based design software maker Configura, which has operations in Grand Rapids, will display 360-degree walkthrough videos for its space-planning solution, CET Designer.

Grand Haven-based LightCorp will launch a new light. Last year, the company debuted the prototype of Amble, a minimalist light designed by industrial designer Stephan Copeland. This year’s NeoCon marks the full launch of the light, which has no moving parts except for a gravity-powered eye.

“This is a light like no other both in function and form,” LightCorp General Manager Kyle Verplank said. Eight other light offerings will be on display, along with a sneak peek of a new prototype, also designed by Copeland.

New also will be at the focus of LOGICDATA, an Austrian company with its North American headquarters in Grand Rapids. The company will introduce an expanded version of its LOGIClink connectivity hub, which joins a user with the working environment and optimizes a workplace with personalized ergonomics, tracking calories, lighting, locker system and more facility management.

The company will pair LOGIClink with LOGICspring, which adds sensors to help chairs be more interactive with users.

NeoCon provides LOGICDATA with a real-time exhibition of the technology while making first-person connections with customers, said Steve Miskelley, LOGICDATA North America president.

“It sounds silly, since we’re in constant contact, but this is an opportunity to connect with executives and show them what we’re doing and get them excited about working with us,” Miskelley said. “It’s constantly about relationship building, but we’re always enticing new customers”

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