Making of NeoCon 2018

An exclusive, early look into the new Steelcase Chicago WorkLife experience which blends Steelcase, Coalesse, Turnstone and our partners in one place.

It’s time to create new ideas, be agile and make things happen faster than ever. It’s time to find inspiration in every corner and accomplish more than you thought possible. We all know work has changed and that means the places where we work need to evolve. At NeoCon 2018, Steelcase will open the doors to a brand new Chicago WorkLife experience.

Designers have reimagined part of the third floor of the Chicago Merchandise Mart to showcase a range of spaces and brands. Steelcase, Coalesse, Turnstone and our partners will now be together in one place to give people what they’re seeking — broad choice over how they want to work. In addition, an embedded layer of technology will elevate the performance of individuals and teams in our Smart + Connected Workplace.


Follow Steelcase for exclusive live interviews and tours during NeoCon June 11-13, 2018.

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So, while some things will remain under wraps until the doors officially open on June 11, 2018, we wanted to give you an exclusive look at some of what you can expect.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers of the new Steelcase Chicago WorkLife experience spent time talking about how they could manipulate surfaces and spaces to make the old feel new again.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers wanted to embrace the scars and layers that have impacted the space over time.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Makers used both analog and digital tools to spark a conversation about craft and skill throughout the new space.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

The team sketched a pattern in the new space for a sculptural installation that reveals some of the building’s history.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Chipped concrete and the history of the patina were one way designers chose to celebrate the existing architecture.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

(L to R) Joey Shimoda and Susan Chang, co-founded Shimoda Design Group in 2000. Cherie Johnson joined Steelcase in 2007 and serves as global design director.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

A striking architectural element that greets guests of the new WorkCafé is affectionately named “Woody."

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

The installation is intended to spark a conversation about craft and skill. (Read: Design Q+A to learn more)

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers created spaces to invite a broad range of curiosity and participation.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers wanted to create spaces to stimulate people and connect them.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers used surfaces to transform people’s perceptions.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers wanted to create spaces to make people feel happy and want to linger longer.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

Designers looked for ways to foster social connections at work.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

In the WorkCafé, designers explored the blend of work and life. It’s created to be very accessible — meaning there’s a space for everyone.

New Chicago WorkLife Experience

The new Steelcase Chicago WorkLife experience will open to the public Monday, June 11, 2018.

The Steelcase Design Studio, led by James Ludwig and Cherie Johnson, worked with Joey Shimoda and Susan Chang, co-founders of Shimoda Design Group, to redesign the Chicago WorkLife for the first time since it opened in 2008. The east end of the third floor of the Chicago Merchandise Mart is now a vessel to share a broad Steelcase portfolio and also serves as a work space for the company’s Chicago employees.

Designers crafted two distinct areas in the new space. The Steelcase WorkLife is where last year the company won best large showroom at NeoCon. This year, new products, new work environments, and a rich and diverse range of wood and architectural solutions will support residents. This is where the Smart + Connected Workplace is most visible. Steelcase products and services, apps and devices improve the experience people have at work while simultaneously providing utilization data to help organizations make the workplace better (see below).

In the Steelcase WorkCafé, a large range of applications and aesthetics engage people — letting them choose the space that works best for them. These more informal spaces bring together Steelcase, Coalesse, Turnstone and our partners to support people when they need to collaborate, socialize, focus or rejuvenate.

In addition, Steelcase Health and Steelcase Education have been redesigned and expanded. To improve experiences and overall health outcomes, Steelcase Health highlights spaces that merge design with clinical relevance, helping these environments feel more welcoming. Spaces and products that show flexibility, provide greater choice, and meaningfully-integrated technology is displayed to meet constantly changing healthcare needs.

To support learning wherever it happens, Steelcase Education highlights a variety of spaces that are active, flexible, and can scale across the campus for the evolving needs of students, educators and institutions. Designers bring teaching and learning to life in spaces designed for privacy, focus, collaboration and creativity – with technology meaningfully integrated.
Designtex is also opening a new location on the third floor.

Celebrating our Partners

In the past year, Metropolis Magazine called Steelcase “the most aggressive in lining up strategic partnerships.” This year at NeoCon, expect more excitement around our collaborations. Recently, one of our partners, BluDot was awarded the prestigious Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, recognized for its inventive use of materials, fabrication technology, and assembly methods to produce furniture with a “playful sensibility.”

The Steelcase partners will play a prominent part of the inspiring and inviting spaces in the WorkCafé. Steelcase partners add to the company’s extensive portfolio offering expanded design options, easily accessed through the largest dealer network in the industry. This collaboration with some of the world’s best brands will be on display at NeoCon, including:

BluDot m.a.d. (China, Hong Kong, India & Singapore)
Bolia (Europe, Middle East & Africa) Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Carl Hansen & Son Sagegreenlife
EMU Viccarbe

Partners help Steelcase offer a variety of styles and materials for informal, casual, comfortable and inspiring furniture for the workplace. These relationships let designers spec partner products as easily as Steelcase products. And, with integrated distribution, everything shows up at the same time on the same truck.

Smart + Connected Workplace

360 Magazine. Inside Innovation

What was once the future, is now reality. As the workspace becomes smarter and more connected, it’s now possible to know how well spaces are working, how often they are being used and whether they meet employees’ needs. NeoCon visitors will experience real-world demonstrations of:

  • Workplace Advisor – Suite of space measurement and analysis tools that provides data and insights on space usage – revealing opportunities to improve the workplace and elevate employee performance.
  • Live Map – Built on the Workplace Advisor Platform, Live Map lets people orient themselves to a space and immediately see what is in use and what is available.
  • Steelcase Find – The app allows employees to quickly find and easily reserve the best space to meet or work, on demand.
  • Steelcase Rise – Pair the app with your height-adjustable desk to inspire movement and a new level of personalization.

In addition, the power of the partnership between Microsoft and Steelcase will be on display in spaces designed to boost creativity and performance.

Innovative Solutions

New Products- SILQ

SILQ is designed using a new patent-pending process that eliminates most of the mechanisms found in typical office chairs and replaces them with a simple system.

New Products- Clipper

Clipper privacy screens from Turnstone give employees control to create spaces that work for them.

New Products - Answer Fence

Answer Fence offers freestanding, light-scale space division while also providing people power and data distribution and access.

New Products - Answer Beam

Answer Beam’s lower elevation complements an open plan and offers an updated feel.

New Products - Ology Bench

Ology™ height-adjustable benches support the physiology and biology of workers in any health-conscious work environment regardless of size, layout or footprint including the new 120 degree application.

New Products - Campfire Pouf

Turnstone’s Campfire Pouf is ideal for casual meeting spaces and impromptu collaboration.

New Products - Surface Materials

Steelcase Surface Materials will showcase seven new global accent colors including saffron (seen here), peacock, lagoon, aubergine, jungle, honey and merlot.

New ways of working require new, innovative solutions. New designs, new materials and new finishes will be on display throughout the showroom. SILQ, a breakthrough in office seating design created using a patent-pending process, will be displayed in an experience celebrating its innovation, artistry and performance. New from Turnstone, Clipper privacy screens and Campfire Pouf put choice and control into the hands of employees — giving them the power to create environments that work for them. And, Answer Fence and Beam brings lighter-scale desking options to the open-plan.

Seven new global accent colors from Steelcase will bring more color to the workplace. The new Color, Pattern and Material custom capability programs from Coalesse will showcase easier ways for designers and customers to express their vision. In the age of plurality, it’s the right time to expand the choices of designers and customers and empower them to customize their workplace.

New 360 Magazine


In order to create great experiences for people at work, Steelcase studies the future of the workplace. A new 360 Magazine will be released on June 11. In it, you will get a glimpse into the working world of tomorrow. You’ll also be able to find:

  • Designs of our new information technology space created to support Agile work.
  • Timely topics like data privacy in the workplace and the rise of innovation in China and India.
  • Inspiring photos of today’s new office
  • A revealing conversation about purpose and business success with Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, co-founders of the furniture company that bears their name.
  • Right now, you can read The Future Is a Circle a magazine article released early online about how the circular economy is making what’s old, new again.

You can find the entire magazine online June 11, 2018 or in the NeoCon showroom in the 360 Cafè in the Steelcase WorkLife. Plus, listen to Steelcase 360 Real Time podcasts for behind-the-scenes conversations about what we’re learning about the places people work with people like Adam Grant, bestselling author and TED speaker, James Ludwig, vice president of Global Design & Engineering for Steelcase, and Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams.

Steelcase invites you to the new Chicago WorkLife experience June 11-13, 2018 at NeoCon. Our NeoCon Guide is available now. If you won’t be in Chicago, you can follow along with exclusive Facebook Live interviews and live tours.

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