A couple weeks ago, the A&D industry gathered in Chicago at the Merchandise Mart for the 49th annual contract furnishings fair known as NeoCon, and Architizer was there to scour the show to discover the best new products ranging from seating and desking to lighting and flooring. Because there’s a lot of ground to cover, we’re splitting our NeoCon recap into six roundups. Scroll down to see the best of acoustical and privacy products.
If you’ve been following the contract furnishings market for the last several years, you’ll remember an innovative wall system called Seeyond made big impressions with its polygon modules held together by powerful magnets. Now 3form has acquired Seeyond and added ¼-inch-thick felt and acoustic foam to help dampen noise wherever the system is installed. Architects and interior designers can use an online configuration tool to create freestanding partitions — including curved enclosures — or feature walls as well as suspended ceilings and wall-to-ceiling compositions. The modules are available in five different shapes, while the felt, made of 50-percent pre-consumer recycled PET with Class A fire rating, is available in eight neutral colors.
Most everyone at the show went wild over this product, which doubles as an acoustical solution and sculptural decoration. Award-winning Austrian design firm 13&9 looked to ancient techniques used in fashion for inspiration, eventually arriving at a round hand-pleated and gathered disc constructed of BuzziSpace’s proprietary acoustic felt or felt-and-fabric combination with beautiful stitch details. BuzziPleat comes in two sizes — 100 or 150 centimeters in diameter — in a limited but sophisticated neutral palette, mounts onto the wall or can be suspended from the ceiling and can be combined with an optional utility pendant light.
Carnegie: Xorel Artform 3D
In addition to adding new shapes — diamonds, squares and planks — to its Xorel Artform acoustical panel line, Carnegie has also introduced dimensional versions to create greater visual interest. The 3D panels are offered in four shapes (Waveline, Hex, Diamond and Square) and, of course, with the Cradle to Cradle–certified Xorel textile, which comes in 300 patterns and colors.
We’ve seen a lot of glass wall products that enable offices to carve out private spaces for meeting rooms and offices. But glass specialist CARVART offers a freestanding solution that doesn’t require construction work. Simply called glassCUBE, it’s a glass wall system with an open-air ceiling and customizable options ranging from hanging display shelves and storage units to sliding doors. The laminated safety glass is offered in a wide range of colors, finishes, gradients and opacities to meet aesthetic needs, including writable and magnetic finishes. Seven cube sizes are available.
Designtex: Casper Cloaking Technology
There were several handsome fabrics, wall coverings and panel systems debuted by Designtex this year, but the wow factor was easily this cloaking technology that, in a sense, brings the stuff of science fiction to real life. In essence, Casper (also shown at top) is an architectural film that applies to the inside face of glass walls to completely obscure digital screens and monitors from anyone passing by outside, addressing issues of confidentiality in open transparent workplaces. The film is available with a basic tint or with any of 15 select graphic patterns.
ICF: Airbloom and Combo Cross
It’s difficult to narrow down which of the acoustic products we most loved from ICF, so we’re going with two stunning screens: Airbloom is composed of flower modules made by molding felt fiber, while Combo Cross is an acoustic-screen version of Pia Wallén’s popular Crux Blanket from the early 1990s. Airbloom modules are available in 10 colors, and the compressed-felt Combo Cross hangings are available in six colors, feature a sound-absorbing core and are punched with cross-shaped openings that can be specified in different transparency levels.
Jabbrrbox: Jabbrrbox Chromebooth
Last year’s talk of NeoCon was Framery, but this year, a new workplace privacy booth brand — cofounded by former Studios Architecture associate principal Brian Hackathorn and entrepreneur Jeremy Jennings — stole the spotlight. Called Jabbrrbox, it’s touting its products as “work” booths that incorporate not only the acoustical sound-isolating elements and comfort desired for phone conversation, but also integrate advanced technology to meet today’s more complex office needs. So in addition to lighting, air ventilation systems, power outlets and USB ports, the enhanced Jabbrrbox Chromebooth features the Google Chromebox for running videoconferencing sessions. (A simplified Jabbrrbox One without the videoconferencing is also available.) Jabbrrbox comes in nine standard powder-coat colors as well as custom colors and materials, while the interiors are outfitted with Camira fabrics.
Steelcase: IRYS Pod
Another freestanding system, IRYS Pod was designed by HOK Product Design and Clestra Hauserman and is exclusively sold in North America through Steelcase. These pods feature floor-to-ceiling glass walls on two sides and integrated ceiling, lighting, ventilation and power access and can accommodate one to three users for focused or collaborative work. Outside of the pod is a canopy with built-in lighting that forms an additional collaborative touchdown zone. A variety of finish options, including whiteboard surfaces, is available.
Unika Vaev: ecoustic Timber Blades Collection
Developed in collaboration with Instyle, these wall and ceiling panels are composed of solid wood in various sound-diffusing profiles — four for walls and five for ceilings — on black acoustic scrim backing. (Ceiling blades can optionally be mounted directly without backing.) The blades are specifiable in hemlock with natural, white wash, walnut or gray stain; red cedar in natural stain; or white birch plywood in natural stain. While the panels come standard with the acoustical backing, they can also be backed with a higher-performing acoustic material for an NRC rating of 1.00.
West Elm Workspace: Haus
In its third year at NeoCon, West Elm Workspace introduced a semi-private pod concept that can look equally at home in a residence or workplace. Conceived in collaboration with Midwestern studio Qdesign, Haus takes the basic form of a house (pitched roof and four walls), naturally, to provide an enclosed retreat from open-plan offices. Three “home” sizes are available and can be configured for individual or collaborative work or for lounging with furniture and accessories such as upholstered sofa seating, screen mount, integrated power and shelving. Two finish palettes — Modern or Industrial — are offered.