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Gearing up for NeoCon: Predictions for Surfacing Innovation

Meghan Howell, North American Design and Creative Director at Formica Corporation, shares her surface trend predictions for this year's NeoCon.

Brass veined black marble Photo courtesy Formica

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By Meghan Howell

As a designer, I get excited by the NeoCon buzz each year. Brands from the commercial interiors industry prepare to showcase their latest technologies and designs, providing inspiration, especially when it comes to surfacing materials. For my team and me, seeing these new introductions encourages us to keep pushing boundaries on how surfacing enhances commercial environments.

This year, I expect the overarching design trend at the show will be quiet luxury with cost-conscious materials. As people crave comforting, home-like vibes in commercial spaces more than ever, they want a taste of richness, yet businesses remain budget-minded. Within this broader trend, there are a few specific themes I'll be watching closely at NeoCon.

Sensory-Inspired Surfacing

Coming out of a period of stainless steel, white and gray, spaces are becoming warmer and more inviting to the senses. Commercial spaces are increasingly more focused on being multi-sensory and stimulating beyond just sight. I predict we’ll see more emphasis on materials and finishes that invite touch, sight, sound and even scent.

Oxidized silk oak Photo courtesy Formica

Expect to see textural innovations at the show this year – ultra-soft matte; deep-veined marbles; organic, raw woodgrains; and soft sound-absorbing acoustic finishes. These varied tactile elements add amazing depth to spaces. Materials that create multi-sensory spaces stimulate connections with commercial interiors that enhance experiences and well-being. I’m so energized by the possibilities of designing for the senses!

 Embellishing Spaces with Metal

I’m fascinated by the resurgence of metal, metallics and metal accents in commercial interior design materials. After years of sleek minimalism dominating design, we’re starting to see a bolder embrace of metallic elements ranging from small highlights to opulence.

DecoMetal Metallic Grey Photo courtesy Formica

The newest trends are all about embracing the unique beauty of different metals and combining them in unexpected ways. This could be blending a polished chrome with a patinaed bronze or combining a decorative graphite with a brass accent. Expect to see metals in different finishes, textures and colors, and throughout unexpected materials in June at NeoCon.

 Sustainability Is Not a Trend

Many have considered sustainability a “mega-trend” for many years, but it’s no longer a trend, it’s a “must-have” for commercial interiors, the building community and material manufacturers. Attendees and exhibitors alike are looking to minimize the footprint of their materials and projects.

We continue to see new aspects of sustainability explored within the surfacing industry. Whether it’s sustainable sourcing of the materials used in products, more efficient use of energy and resources, or advances in reusing discarded material in surfacing products, all of these efforts have an important impact and I hope to see companies showcasing meaningful sustainability efforts at NeoCon this year.

 Innovation in surfacing has been captivating to watch over the past several years. This continual drive for improvement perhaps explains why so many surfacing companies have been in business for so long. As commercial spaces face new challenges and evolving design demands, I'm excited to see how this industry brings new solutions forward, both at NeoCon and beyond.

Meghan Howell is the North American Design and Creative Director at Formica Corporation

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