If there was one word to describe the new products being introduced at the NeoCon World's Trade Fair 2003, it would have to be "abundant." From ceilings to walls to floors and everything—and we mean everything—in between, NeoCon guarantees a preview of the colors, shapes, finishes, functions and technology that will influence the design of commercial environments in the coming years.
What's especially interesting about all that goes into making NeoCon the mega-event that it is, though, happens long before the multitudes descend upon the Merchandise Mart. While we are treated to hundreds of innovative concepts and creations during our time there, we truly have no way to gauge the extent of the research and development that has served as the impetus for it all. We may occasionally be given a short synopsis of a particular design premise, but we probably will never learn about the hundreds of hours (some of them agonizing) required to take an idea from a simple sketch to the three-dimensional, real-life product that stands before us just waiting to be seen, touched or even taken for a "test drive."
In an effort to recognize and celebrate all the hard work that happens long before NeoCon ever happens, we chose as our cover story for this year's NeoCon issue two designers who can offer us a glimpse into what life before NeoCon is like. Lynda Chesser and Bill Schacht took home the gold last year in the Best of NeoCon Awards—so who better to talk about the process it takes to get from Point A to Point Z? You are sure to enjoy reading about this husband-and-wife team who hail from different backgrounds—an industrial designer and an interior designer, respectively—and yet who have managed quite successfully to strike a balance between beauty and technology, manufacturability and creativity, risk and assurance. They epitomize the philosophy that is eloquently cited in their firm's promotional literature: "A great design may begin with a single idea. But it doesn't become a great design solution until it integrates many."
Our interest in what happens behind-the-scenes comes to bear in yet another area, one that we actively champion: sustainable design and building practices. While at NeoCon, we hope you'll pick up a copy of the Green Guide to NeoCon, a reference guide to products that have been created with particular attention focused on environmental stewardship. This is the fourth year for the Green Guide, and it has grown exponentially each year as a result of a movement that has gathered a fierce momentum. In this area, especially, what happens in the development process is hugely important. Much of what makes a product eco-friendly has to do with the materials from which it is made, the production processes utilized in manufacturing and end-of-life issues when the product becomes obsolete. The Green Guide to NeoCon highlights those suppliers who have accepted the challenge of "walking the talk," and even provides a list of questions to ask suppliers, thus ensuring an intelligent and informative dialogue that leaves little room for possible greenwash.
Surely, a lot of blood, sweat and tears have flowed to make NeoCon 2003 a spectacular event. It is truly a celebration of good design and great solutions. Kudos to all who have worked hard before NeoCon to make being at NeoCon both rewarding and worthwhile—you are to be congratulated for making it all seem so, well, easy!