New commercial floorcoverings will also be a highlight. “A dozen or so floor covering manufacturers have concentrated on the 8th floor, showing a broad range of products from carpet tiles to broadloom and resilient flooring, giving attendees the convenience of seeing a number of great flooring products in a relatively concentrated area,” said Byron Morton, vp of leasing at Merchandise Mart Properties.

Along with the concentration on the 8th floor there are special focuses on exhibits showcasing modern design and ideas. Mohawk for example, will be showing off some of their newest ideas in the Kinzie Wells lobby of the Merchandise Mart, and Herman Miller will be transforming the South Lobby with ideas aimed at meeting the requirements of modern living.

The theme for this year’s show is “Ideas Revealed,” with an eye toward inspiring attendees to be leaders, to inspire others, to connect with one another and to discover new ideas throughout the commercial industry. “NeoCon is more than just a trade show; it’s an outlet for the industry’s biggest names, biggest ideas and best products. It has a 45-year history and is one of the most recognizable and well-respected contract furnishings [events] in the world,” said Morton.

Education and awards. Each year there are interesting and educating keynote speakers, with this year being no exception. “We have lined up four incredible and informative keynote speakers including Bjarke Ingels, founder of BIG; Michael Vanderbyl, principal of Vanderbyl Design; Holly Hunt, president & CEO of Holly Hunt; and Lauren Rottet, FAIA, FIIDA, interior architect and founder of Rottet,” said Morton.

Along with the impressive lineup of keynote speakers, the event will also offer continuing education, seminars, student programs and professional development, as these types of events have always been a major part of NeoCon. The schedule will include nearly 100 CEU-accredited seminars and industry association forums, keeping industry trade professionals in the know on the latest trends and updated techniques. Education at the show ranges from learning about sustainability to interior design and technology, offering a variety of topics for everyone to learn something at the show.

Among the special events, awards in an array of categories will be revealed, including the Product Innovations Awards,which honors product that “pushes the limits of design and technology to create a fresh way of getting the job done.” Additionally, the IIDA/ContractMagazine Showroom & Booth Design Competition will award those who create a unique space with color, texture and use of lighting. Editors of Metropoliswill also be on-hand to award their Metropolis Likes Awards to their favorite products, exhibits and ideas at the show.

Special exhibits. Look out for many special exhibits throughout the floors of the Merchandise Mart. BreakPoint Books located on the seventh floor in  Suite 7-2041 will be hosting an onsite bookstore. There you can locate books written by the conference speakers that cover many different topics throughout the show.

The BuzziSpace Lounge is the opposite of what it sounds like – it is actually designed as an area for peace and quiet – to escape the commotion of the show, make a phone call, network or just relax. There are additional spaces for relaxation in the Mart including the Herman Miller Lounge on the first floor, the GSA Internet Lounge on the eighth floor and the SIXINCH Recharge Zone and Outdoor Alfresco Lounge on the first and eighth floors. Don’t forget to check out the Student Project Display on the seventh floor, featuring the future of interior design from the up-and-coming generation of young designers.

NeoCon has time on its side. Being the longest running commercial furnishings show in North America, organizers have learned what works and what doesn’t. “I firmly believe we’ve achieved where we are because we have a pulse on the industry and have forged important relationships with industry leaders who are passionate about the success of the show and its invaluable impact on our exhibitors and attendees alike,” stated Morton.

The goal of the show is to leave a lasting impression on attendees, Morton added. “We want NeoCon to leave an indelible mark on our attendee’s perspective so when they are working on a project in the coming years, they will remember all of the groundbreaking products and ideas they saw here, and in the end, specify them.”

Check out the full list of events and exhibitors at www.neocon.com.