At NeoCon this year, there was a great sense of confidence in the air. For once, many of the larger showrooms such as Herman Miller and Vitra did not feel the need to cram in more and more furniture, as if they were trying to justify the vast amounts they had spent. Plenty of open spaces allowed products to be presented more attractively and viewed more easily.
There is no pretense of this being anything other than an American show. Unlike European exhibitions which actively welcome overseas exhibitors and visitors, Neocon grudgingly allows them to participate, so long as they remember they are guests. This is, after all, the largest office furniture market in the world and everyone would like even just a tiny share of it. The fixed locations of most of the showrooms, very familiar to those of the thousands of attendees who return year after year, put an onus on companies to reinvent their presence each year and the vast spaces occupied by the largest companies means the effort and investment involved is massive.
There was also a somewhat extended timeline this year with both the Sunday, the day before the show officially opened, being extremely busy and the Wednesday, when it is normally as quiet as a morgue, still seeing masses of people, and even queues for the elevators. The senior executives who often head gratefully home after lunch on Tuesday might want to rethink their arrangements for next year.