The NeoCon World's Trade Fair began yesterday, drawing over 40,000 visitors to fill the eighteen floors of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Attendees in search of the latest trends in carpet, tiles, furniture, and lighting were swarming the pristine showrooms of some of the biggest names in the architectural product industry. We were delighted to see that there were strong sustainability stories surrounding many of the products, starting right at the front door with a huge elephant made from recycled tires installed by InterfaceFLOR as a testament to their vow to not use any petroleum-based products by the end of 2010. Read on for more great green finds from this year's show!
InterfaceFLOR‘s giant recycled elephant was created in partnership with the Human Elephant Foundation and Chicago’s Field Museum. The elephant was crafted entirely from tires by South African artist Andres Botha. Because the elephant has a lifespan similar to humans, and have family units and relationship similar to our own, it has been chosen as the symbol to represent the company’s “Off Oil by 2020” mission.
The InterfaceFLOR showroom unveiled a collection that is throwback to 1980’s Memphis styling. Not Memphis, Tennessee — but rather the geometric, bold-colored design period that grew out of Italy three decades ago. InterfaceFLOR proves that eco can also be wild with this collection made from a minimum 31% post-consumer recycled content (64% total).
The Crinoline line of outdoor furniture from B&B Italia is constructed of natural fibers hand-woven into soft, flowing forms. Known for her excellent use of textures and sophisticated ornamentation, designer Patricia Urquiola plays with the stiff, structural weave of the furniture by adorning the chairs with natural fiber ponchos.
Crossville Tile is dedicated to sustainability and touts that they were the first porcelain tile company to use recycled content in a product called EcoCycle. Today they offer a great variety of tiles with recycled content, accounting for over 6 million pounds of waste diverted from landfills. A standout from their 2010 offering is the Urban Renewal line of metallic tiles, which is SCS certified to have 50% post-consumer recycled content.
On display in the Cabot Wrenn Showroom is a chair designed by a four person faculty-student team from New York City’s Pratt Institute. The chair was handcrafted from sustainable North American white maple in the Cabot Wrenn North Carolina headquarters. The faceted form of the chair utilizes straight cuts of wood to minimize waste while maintaining a high degree of strength in the joinery. The beautiful piece was created by Mark Goetz, B.I.D. ’86, Tim Richartz, B.I.D. ’86, Alvaro Uribe, B.I.D. ’10, and Ashley Thorfinnson, M.I.D. ’10.
Skyline Design ventured into sustainable design for children with their whimsical line of Greenplay furniture, but their Kid’s Glass on display at NeoCon takes a sophisticated new approach to youthful eco interiors. The line of graphic glass panels are patterned with low-VOC coatings on low-iron tempered glass. Skyline also uses a proprietary process for etching glass patterns called Eco-Etch, which looks and feels like a frosty acid etched glass without the environmental concerns and costly transportation. With mazes, mustaches, and connect-the-dot panels, this glass is certainly graphically engaging.
Herman Miller’s Compass system for health facilities is based on a flexible-format modular rail system that allows storage, wall panels, and even plumbing fixtures to be wall-hung. Having the ability to transform the function of rooms in a healthcare setting is important as a facility ages. All of the panels are PVC-free and are completely sealed with no edge banding, which means that they resist moisture and bacteria. Hanging everything on the wall also means that they floors are easier to clean, and the rooms can be kept more sanitary. Sanitation is the first priority of the system, which features sinks that allow for easily washing up to your elbows without splashing. Besides the extremely well thought-out function of this system, the color and finish combinations are cheery and have a soft, natural feel.
Hank Loewenstein’s philosophy for his furniture company focuses on care for his employees, the environment, and for European styling. The Loewenstein L10 outdoor lounges incorporate the principals of proper scale, comfort and engineering with a natural look and feel. The products are GreenGuard-certified for air quality and health standards, meaning that none of the material will off-gas anything harmful. Lowenstein’s outdoor products have a Silverban technology that protects them from mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria growth.
We loved how much fun NeoCon visitors were having with this dry erase “Tabrasa” wall paint from MDC. This low-VOC, low odor, water-based covering applies in only one coat, and it meets California air quality standards. MDC’s products are backed by with a GreenGuard certification for air quality. If you were thinking of making the board room less boring over night, get yourself a can of Tabrasa!
Bentley Price Street introduced several new broadloom and carpet tile collections with names like Global Vistas, Domestic Alchemy, and Pershing Square. Their new Hollywood Story line adorned the booth as an ode to their Los Angeles heritage and its legacy of high-end design. Sustainability Manager Kimbrely Matsoukas is giving daily talks during the show about Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for manufacturers and how some companies are greenwashing by not backing their environmental product claims with third-party certifications.
Mohawk has a reputation for sustainable products and services that range from vegetable-dyed fibers to recycled content backings, to reclamation programs and an online LEED Plus calculator. Their NeoCon showroom was filled with gorgeous offerings of commercial tile, but the story around their Lees brand “Beautiful Abandon” line was the most interesting. A team from Mohawk did a service-oriented trip to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina and became inspired by the brilliance of neglected urban structures. The carpet patterns are an homage to the beauty and history of rusty metals, broken glass, and aging building facades. The carpet uses fibers that are inherently stain-resistant, so no chemicals are applied after processing, and they can be cleaned using only water.
Janus et Cie has a reputation for creating luxurious furniture for distinctive clients. Their Loom paper chairs are not new to the company, but are notable this year at NeoCon with the unveiling of a new book that focuses on the collection. These chairs are made in Indonesia from woven paper that is strong enough to last over 40 years.