Florida Tile’s Sean Cilona, director marketing, and Dan Tuzik, independent commercial sales specialist, with the new Berkshire collection of tile that emulates the look of hand-scraped hardwood.

Business was brisk at NeoCon 2011, held June 13-15 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The show for commercial furnishings and interiors attracted nearly 43,000 industry professionals, a 4 percent increase over the previous year. The mood on the show floor was optimistic, with many exhibitors happy to see an increase in the number of visitors.

Showgoers mingle at Flexco’s exhibit.

“I’ve been at this show three times, and it has been the most busy this year,” said Sean Cilona, Florida Tile mktg. dir. “It’s been a very good show for us, very busy.” Among the products his company debuted was the Berkshire collection of porcelain plank tile designed to resemble the look of hand-scraped hardwood.

Laurey Banker, Johnsonite’s director product management - commercial, and Diane Martel, Tarkett vp environmental strategies and planning, at the Johnsonite booth.

Melissa Quick, Flexco mktg. coordinator, also saw an uptick in attendance. “It’s been busier this year, and we’ve seen a few more interior designers and architects than we’ve seen in the past.” Her company launched a range of new colors in wood-look resilient flooring.

Showgoers browse Mannington Commercial’s Vivendi collection, a collaboration with HOK Product Design and Pallas Textiles.

One of the unofficial themes of the show was customization. Manufacturers of resilient and tile flooring as well as carpet tile/broadloom said that modularity is an increasingly important element of commercial design.

David Duncan, vp marketing, Mohawk flooring division, said the company was proud to win a Best of NeoCon Gold award for its new SmartStrand Contract with DuPont Sorona product.

“Personalization and customization is a trend that’s gaining traction,” said Laurey Banker, Johnsonite dir. commercial product mgmt. One of the products the company introduced was Masquerade, a high-definition wall base line available with custom patterns.

The BPS showroom featured new products set in frames like a gallery.

DeeDee Brickner, Roppe’s mktg. coordinator, believes it is important to combine customization with cost-effectiveness. “The best situation is when you get cost-effective looks, but in a high-design space,” she said. Her company unveiled several new products including Northern Leathers, a leather-look lvt, and Northern Timbers, a wood-look lvt plank.

Jeremy Whipple, Roppe marketing manager, with the company’s new Northern Leathers premium vinyl tile line.

According to Laura Compton, J+J/Invision dir., design & development, modular carpet is beginning to eclipse broadloom in popularity for commercial use. Other trends she is seeing include “a lot more texture and higher luster levels; the use of warm, complex yarns; and lower face weights.”

Mark Brunelle, USFContract national sales manager, with some of the latest additions to the Cork Decor line, which won the company a Best of NeoCon Gold award.

Peter Greene, InterfaceFLOR vp mktg., also sees the popularity of modular options increasing. “You can use modular styles to create a lot of different looks that are new. There is no question that the [commercial] world is moving from broadloom to modular.”

Terry Mowers, Tandus Flooring’s sr. vp product development, with the Change collection which is offered in modular formats and Powerbond hybrid resilient sheet flooring.

According to Valerie Ottaviano, Bentley Prince Street vp, some of the latest trends in commercial carpet are “varying pile heights, lowering the face weight, and offering patterns influenced by organics.”

She noted that high-luster yarns are also important. “With these types of yarns, you can keep a neutral color to the product but have some sort of excitement.”

David Portales, ASCER foreign trade and export promotion, at the Tile of Spain exhibit.

Jeff West, Patcraft’s vp mktg. and product development, also believes commercial carpet patterns, whether modular or broadloom, are becoming much more organic. His company introduced several new looks: Cool Rain, inspired by water ripples, and City Flora, an organic look, are both part of the New Ground collection. “We are seeing much more organic, much more natural and neutral colors in our major markets,” he noted.

Laurie Lyza, Crossville’s dir. marketing, shows off the new Ebb & Flow wall tile program. The booth also commemorated Crossville’s 25th anniversary.

Shaw Contract Group’s showroom resembled a contemporary art gallery with the company’s new The Music Project and On the Edge modular carpet installed on the floor and walls. On the Edge is an 18” by 36” carpet tile with patterning along one edge that can be installed for large-scale patterns and other designs.

Peter Greene, InterfaceFLOR’s vp marketing, holds up a binder featuring the company’s Creation line.

“On the Edge got us thinking about pattern and direction. There are many different ways of placing the tiles together to activate the edge,” said Reesie Duncan, Shaw Contract Group creative dir.

The Mohawk Group used their space to show off a wide range of new products across their brands, including SmartStrand Contract with DuPont Sorona carpets. The company’s theme for the show was “What Moves You.”

J+J/Invision welcome showgoers to a cocktail party at its showroom.

“What Moves You is the message we’re communicating here,” said David Duncan, Mohawk vp mktg. “Design is all about problem-solving and being inspired by creativity. We’re showing a lot of products, new colors, and enhancements in yarn and coloring.”

Tandus Flooring showed its Powerbond hybrid resilient sheet flooring and formally introduced its Sero design technology. According to Terry Mowers, Tandus Flooring’s sr. vp product development, Sero allows Powerbond products to feature large, uninterrupted floor patterns in both sheet and modular tile.

T. Fred Roche, Parterre Flooring Systems president, spoke about the company’s 20th anniversary.

“We are designing for the floor plan,” Mowers explained. “You are seeing much more glass walls in [commercial] projects, and the floor is much more exposed than ever before.”

Mannington Commercial unveiled products including its Vivendi collection of resilient flooring, a collaboration with HOK Product Design and Pallas Textiles. According to company spokesperson Caleb Ludwick, “This collection is very exciting because it shows off a much softer look, with a distinct healthcare influence.”

Shaw Contract Group held a press breakfast to introduce its latest collections, which included The Music Project and On the Edge modular carpet tiles.

USFContract presented its Cork Décor Volume 2 flooring, a vinyl-encapsulated, dense cork flooring tile. “Our new Cork Décor styles won a Best of NeoCon Gold award,” said Mark Brunelle, national sales mgr. “Usually these types of awards go to the really big contract companies with many years in the commercial market, so this has been very exciting for us.”

Centiva debuted its new First Step app for the iPad and iPhone. “You can choose one of our product series, select the products you want and see them in a full sample size, then easily submit an e-mail to our sample department,” noted Leigh Wright, Centiva sr. designer. “It cuts down on waste and is extremely cost-effective.”

Visitors to the Antron booth entered a showroom designed to evoke the inside of a carpet.

Bolyu Contract unveiled several new products, including the Sheer Motion collection in both broadloom and modular formats. New styles including Rush and Drift are designed to emulate the layering and dimensional effects of glass.

Several companies also used NeoCon as a forum to promote their anniversaries. Crossville’s exhibit featured a sign proclaiming the company’s 25th year in business. “We are still owned by the same company that we were in 1986,” said Laura Lyza, dir. mktg. “Back then, an 8” by 8” tile was considered large format.”

Jeff West, Patcraft vp marketing and product development, with the company’s Cool Rain pattern.

Parterre Flooring Systems was celebrating its 20th anniversary. “We have the benefit of being focused on only one product segment, and having that focus is an opportunity for us to constantly reinvent,” noted T. Fred Roche, company president.

NeoCon 2012 will be held June 11-13, 2012, at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. For more information, visit www.neocon.com.