Is 70’s Furniture Design Back? 4 Design Trends from Neocon that Stole the Show
Published: June 6, 2023
Written by Eva Lindstrom, Rafael Martin, and Matt Carvell
The commercial furniture industry is a hub of innovation. It is an industry of high adaptability and forward-thinking where designs evolve to aesthetically and functionally shape our workspaces. As an industry, we are constantly responding to and meeting society where we are today. A more drastic shift in how the workforce functions has occurred over the past few years in response to the pandemic as well as global economic and supply chain shifts.
One event that captures the essence of this industry is Neocon and Design Days, the premier tradeshow that brings together industry professionals, designers, and manufacturers under one roof. Over the past several weeks, we dissected four design trends that stole the show!
We couldn’t help but notice how many themes, colors, and designs reminisced of retro 70’s design. In an era when design was created around intimate social spaces, we were inspired by low-slung soft furniture, rounded silhouettes, caning, and earthy colors. These open spaces were conducive to human connection and inspired immediate comfort, while the earthy tones, rich woods, and incorporation of plants brought the outside in. Textiles certainly embraced the 70s with a modern twist, bringing new life to classic bouclés, geometric and checked patterns. Texture is the focus as we see simpler shapes finished in softer materials.
Don’t believe us? Even a recent article in Vogue (check it out here) suggests that the casual-ness of 70’s design fits nicely in the modern post-COVID era. In an interview with Vogue, editorial director of 1stDibs Anthony Barzilay Freund says, “People felt a need for a relaxed environment—so, nothing hard on the eyes, and a place that has an immediate comfortable feel.” The article proposes that “the ’70s, with their warm color schemes (brown, in particular, is known for its mentally grounding effect), wide-open rooms, and sit-and-sink-into furniture, was the perfect period to take cues from.”
Rounded Furniture: Creating Welcoming Spaces
Neocon and Design Days 2023 witnessed a surge in designs that were, for lack of a better term, round. Everything from lounge furniture, coffee tables, and accent details all incorporated soft curves. Beyond rounded profiles in individual pieces, furniture layouts have taken a rounded approach encouraging increased flow around a space so that the users don’t feel confined to one quadrant or area. It drives home the 70’s-style design that we couldn’t help but gush over!
Perching: Work From Anywhere
Gone are the days of rigid workstations and static office layouts. Neocon and Design Days manufacturers showcased a myriad of perching solutions to embrace flexibility and adaptability. These perching solutions allow users to pop in for a quick meeting and move to various work points around an office. With their multifunctional nature, these pieces empower employees to personalize their surroundings and optimize productivity.
Socially Responsible Designs: Designing with a Purpose
Sustainability and socially responsible design has been a buzz within the industry for awhile now. However, with more focus and pressure put on businesses to act on best practices, socially responsible design continued to gain momentum at Neocon in a way that felt more intentional and meaningful than ever before. Manufacturers showcased environmentally friendly solutions with emphasis on the importance of responsible sourcing and manufacturing practices. We saw a myriad of eco materials from the upholstery to the surfaces to the bases of furniture. The options in the specification process to choose ‘green’ are continuing to evolve, setting a new standard for eco-conscious commercial furniture.
360 Furniture: Good From Every Angle
Neocon and Design Days continued to up their game with even more design-driven ancillary furniture. Increasingly we are designing floorsets around centrally located collaboration hubs, with ancillary furniture front and center facilitating the different ways we need spaces to function. With these pieces on 360 display we saw more design detail being put into the back of the furniture with wrap arounds, stitching details, and more.
Neocon and Design Days 2023 was a testament to the remarkable advancements and trends shaping the commercial furniture industry. We saw a resurgence in 70s-inspired spaces and design aesthetic, while our top trends addressed the workplace’s evolving needs and preferences. As we move forward, it is clear that commercial furniture will continue to push boundaries, creating environments that foster well-being, productivity, and connectivity.