It is always an adventure and somewhat overwhelming to step into the mind of an industry outside your own comfort level. But never the less, Springthrough’s Kolt Ewing, Developer, and Kelsey Marr, Program Manager, ventured down to the Windy City to explore the world of NeoCon.
NeoCon is a yearly furniture showcase and conference in the Merchandise Mart, one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Chicago. NeoCon doesn’t just span one floor of this remarkable building, it takes up over 7 floors of the Mart. All filled with furniture, textiles, lighting, and office gadgets from all over the world. Filling each of those floors, thousands of people from all over the world taking in the beauty of each piece of furniture, exploring functionalities, and whether they realize it or not, experiencing how technology played a role in making this all possible. The element of technology in this industry is what our Springthrough ambassadors went to explore.
From our Springthrough ambassadors point of view, adventuring the first floor of showcased products started with a feeling of being overwhelmed and also a bit lost. After breezing through several showcase booths, Kolt and Kelsey began observing how several of the vendors could have displayed their technology for better use or how some used the technology to their advantage. Vendors were incorporating interactive displays with touch screens in order to get customers and merchandisers more involved with a technological experience at their booths. Several vendors were even utilizing Virtual Reality (VR) headsets in their display for an immersive experience. Additionally, there we augmented reality booths that allowed the user to not only view architectural designs, but rotate, skew, and swap designs at the touch of a (virtual) button.
Technology was an integral part of many showcases throughout the convention. Many booths displayed the integration of technology and furniture by displaying Surface Studio devices, desks combined with audio and visual technology, and intuitive additions to workspaces such as USB-charging pillows.
Booths that poorly implemented technology stood out immediately. At a conference that seemed so focused on perfection of furniture and design, it was interesting to see how little effort some booths put into making sure that the technological aspects of their presentations were correct and appealing. This provides Springthrough a great opportunity to reach out to these companies in hopes of collaborating with them to create a sleek and polished experience for visitors.
Aside from admiring the use of technology in several showcases and observing how Springthrough could help some of the vendors better understand how they could leverage technology to their advantage, Kelsey and Kolt found themselves having a better appreciation for the art of furniture fashion. The trend of collaborative and intuitive workspaces was widely used in almost every showcase. Everything from whiteboard table tops to circular conference tables to electric raising desks, stood out as prized possessions to the team.
One of the biggest take-away from NeoCon was the need for integrating some of these pieces and ideas into their own collaborative workspace environment. Collaborative and intuitive workspaces drive the creative industry, including development. The Springthrough team will be applying the ideas of collaborative work environments and integrated VR technology as possible sales and learning tools for clients in the future, all based on the incredible learning experiences at NeoCon 2017.