Friday, July 17, 2015

Neocon 2015 Chicago furniture show

Neocon 2015, Chicago, IL
Jillian Rooker

A few of us ladies in the studio set off to the big city of Chicago to see what Neocon was all about this year - and what an experience it was.  Neocon is a large furniture trade show focusing on the corporate design market. We dabble in corporate design, so this was an important show for us to attend to see what new innovative options are out there.
We arrived on the Sunday before the show so we could have some time to explore the city. Of course, at the top of our list was to dine  at the awesome eateries Chicago has to offer as well as take a tour through Millennium Park. Our first stop was at Purple Pig, a restaurant known for its delicious small plates and laid back atmosphere. It was sweltering outside, but our champagne cocktails hit the spot. We definitely recommend this little restaurant- the food was amazing!

Our tour through the city led us to Millennium Park with our first stop at the Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry. Apparently they offer free concerts in this thing, too? Nice!

Of course we had to take the obligatory Bean picture, but we also discovered some beautiful bronze cast sculptures along the way.

That night with the wonderful people from OFS Brands and Interface Carpet, we tried the restaurant Oak + Char. We met with the owner who gave us an informative tour of the space, the story behind the design and his family's background in the restaurant industry. Naturally, we ate it up! (oh, and the food, too :)! Not to mention that all of us were super brave and tried bone marrow for the first time. Whoever said we weren't explorative eaters! (p.s. NOT a fan!)

(Heather's reaction moments after consuming bone marrow for the first time.)

The next morning we set out with lanyards in hand to attend the first day at Neocon. There were a zillion people there as well as a zillion cool furniture pieces, lighting, and textiles to look at. Talk about a lot of visual stimulation. One of our favorite showrooms we visited that day was HBF.

They beautifully curated their furniture and it felt so approachable and sophisticated- clean and contemporary. Nancy Suitt, one of our wonderful sales reps from Main Solutions, took us on an informative tour of all her lines. After HBF, we scurried through Davis, which had fantastic contemporary furniture options for our restaurants and hotel projects.

Upon wrapping up our first day at the show, we were surprised to find out that it was pouring rain outside and waiting for an UBER or a cab back to our hotel would have taken hours. We decided to throw our inhibitions to the wind, roll up our pants, and dredge through the streets of Chicago barefoot and happy - an experience we will never forget!

That evening we all dined at Nico Osteria, a delicious Italian restaurant which not only impressed with some of the best Italian cuisine we've ever had, but also with their unique design aesthetic- such a fun restaurant! Beautiful design detailing- always a treat to get inspired from other talent out there!

(Prosciutto, beets, herbs, and goat cheese- yes, all of these ingredients are wonderful together!)

Our second and final day at Neocon, we visited a ton of showrooms including Coalesse, Knoll, and Jasper Group. Knoll had an awesome felt cushion wall and banquette that we all agreed was super unique - maybe a restaurant application is in this product's future?  Heather was floored by the suede tabletop!!! And we were all taken aback by Knoll's new textile line. 

(Jasper Group's zoom book shelf- love the fun use of bent plywood.)

No doubt there were some common themes among showroom designs, but the one that stood out the most to us was definitely Haworth. The 1970s were in full effect. Some of us who had never experienced that decade (sorry, Lucy) definitely got to feel what it was like on that showroom floor!

That night we decided to go big (not go home!) and really explore the Chicago restaurant scene. After taking the most death defying UBER ride of our lives, we made it to Girl and the Goat all in one piece.  This restaurant is one our clients always benchmark.  The atmosphere was buzzing, and we decided to try the goat empanadas along with some signature cocktails. The open kitchen was inviting- we now see what all that fuss is about!

Next on our list was Publican. Again, another restaurant we've always heard about and that our clients love. This restaurant was very unique in its layout. The whole restaurant is comprised of large communal tables that look like they have been hand crafted by a community of talented Amish woodworkers. The signature lighting, a series of warm and glowy globe lights define the entire space, and there is standing room in the middle of everything for those people like us who just want to try a drink.  Our cocktails were delicious.

Next up, Momotaro!  So cool. Avroko did a wonderful job capturing the Japanese detailing in this space. We believe it's all in the details! Our studio is currently working on a Japanese Izakaya inspired restaurant near Miami, FL and we wanted to experience what a Chicago Japanese restaurant was all about- Very Impressive!

We ordered tons of sushi, nigiri, apps, and naturally, we ended with a chocolatey dessert. The staff was really informative, which is SO important for first timers to the restaurant. All around fantastic experience!

We wrapped up our night after stuffing our faces and passed out at the hotel. Chicago is such a great city to explore delicious cuisine and innovative design. Our Neocon trip of 2015 was one to go down in the books!


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