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NeoCon shows off newest office furniture trends

Thousands people flock NeoCdesign expositiconference Merchandise Mart Monday June 11 2012 Chicago. | Chandler West~Sun-Times

Thousands of people flock to NeoCon, a design exposition and conference, at the Merchandise Mart on Monday, June 11, 2012, in Chicago. | Chandler West~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 12, 2012 1:43PM

At the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, tens of thousands of architects, designers, government buyers, dealers, and manufacturers are checking out the latest trends in office furnishings.

The 44th annual NeoCon — the National Exposition of Contract Furnishings show — opened Monday. The extravagant displays showcase innovations in furnishings that range from the functional to the bizarre. Organizers expect about 40,000 people will attend the three-day show.

Byron S. Morton, vice president of leasing for Merchandise Mart Properties, described the changes in the market as a move toward the collaboration of “live and work.” One of this year’s office trends is making the office feel more like home.

“What does the iPad generation need — or not need? They need connectivity and don’t need big bulky furniture,” Morton said.

Designer and manufacturer Teknion’s 20,000-square-foot space, which took three days to set up, showcases lounge areas with integrated technology. A space-saving desk uses “sideways” private office drawers that come out the side of the desk.

Short couches surround a fire pit a the Haworth Showroom’s. Senior designer for Haworth, Nicolai Czumaj-Bront, explained the setting as “creating a textured environment.”

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