NeoCon East: Exhibitors applaud move to Philadelphia
November 9/16; Volume 30/Number 11
By Ken Ryan
Philadelphia—For the first 12 years of the show’s existence, NeoCon East called Baltimore home. During that period, the expo focused largely on government furniture sales and the East Coast design community that couldn’t attend NeoCon in Chicago.
When the Baltimore Convention Center was unable to accommodate the 2015 show dates, NeoCon East organizers relocated the event to the Pennsylvania Convention Center here.
The new venue was a big hit as attendance increased 15% over 2014, according to Merchandise Mart Properties, which runs NeoCon East. “I think there were several factors that probably all came into play,” a spokesman said. “Accessibility of Philadelphia for the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New York City regions, a strong design industry in the Philly area, new partnerships and relevance for a wide spectrum of vertical markets. There were leading companies who came in with the best in new products and services ready to specify.”
Mohawk Group was one of those companies. It touted its bevy of award-winning products from NeoCon 2015 in Chicago, including Moving Floors, which earned a Best of NeoCon award; Modern Dobby, a new woven broadloom featuring extreme texture; and Mass Appeal, its latest commercial LVT launch. “Our booth was crowded nonstop, and we hosted designers from all over as well as groups of students as part of ASID [American Society of Interior Designers],” said Royce Epstein, director of design, Mohawk Group. “Having been at NeoCon East every year, this was the most invigorating show yet. The buzz in Philly was palpable and local designers were very proud to be hosting NeoCon East in their town.”
Perhaps no flooring company was more at home in Philadelphia than Bentley, the Los Angeles-based mill that considers the A&D community within the Washington to Boston corridor the core of its market. “This is such a strong show for us; it’s really the sweet spot of our market,” said Ralph Grogan, president and CEO of Bentley. “The move from Baltimore to Philadelphia allows for more designers from New Jersey and New York to attend.”
Bentley introduced two new lines to its Curio collection, Trance and Magnetism, which are heavier textured products that combine multiple dye and luster levels with varying yarn-processing methods. Trance is available in carpet tile and broadloom, and uses mixed denier yarns and luster levels to create a boucle-style loop texture. Magnetism is modular only.
Despite its reputation for high-end goods, Bentley has adapted its offerings to meet all designer needs and price points. “You can put Bentley in your building for $20 a yard,” said Sherry Dreger, vice president of marketing. “But our aesthetics at that price point are still innovative.”
Drawing from its heritage of classic, chic style, Bentley introduced three products to its Black Book portfolio: Anarchy, Anthem and Soundtrack. Anarchy is offered in 18 x 36 and 24 x 24 carpet tiles and broadloom. Anthem and Soundtrack are made from Antron Legacy type 6,6 nylon. Anthem, featured in seven colors, is available in NexStep cushion tile and Afirma hardback tile in 18 x 36 and 24 x 24 options. Soundtrack also comes as a broadloom (12 feet x 6 inches) and area rugs.
“We are known for creating fashion for the floor,” Dreger said. “Now we’re pushing even further and indulging in the heavier weights, modern style and limitless color flexibility our clients crave.”
Philadelphia Commercial, a Shaw Industries company, introduced its Simple Mechanics collection of carpet tile. Offered in 14 neutral colors that can blend into any palette, Simple Mechanics includes two 18 x 36 carpet tiles: Straight Shift and Shifting Gears. Straight Shift is an open weave pattern made of vertical and horizontal lines that come together to create subtle movement. Shifting Gears is Philadelphia Commercial’s interpretation of the uncomplicated inclined plane, according to Debbie Houston, R&D creative director, who explained that diagonal elements are balanced by irregular striping to create shapes and angles like those used in modern architecture. “Designers want high style and high performance carpeting for even the most budget-restricted projects.”
Quentin Quathamer, commercial brand and marketing manager for Philadelphia Commercial, said the company works closely with both designers and end users to create flooring solutions for all markets and applications. Acknowledging that designers are operating under tighter budgets these days, Quathamer said Shaw’s commercial divisions are working to provide “clean, simple aesthetics that are durable yet affordable. Value doesn’t mean you are compromising. We are very cognizant of managing our resources.”
After skipping last year’s show in Baltimore, Beaulieu Commercial returned to NeoCon East in Philadelphia with a large booth presence. “If someone wants to find us, they’ll find us,” noted Rob Cushman, executive vice president, marketing and design.
Beaulieu Commercial continues to focus on carpet tile, which now makes up 50% of its soft surface business. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 70% of our business in carpet tile in five years,” said Steve Hillis, president. Its Bolyü brand showcased Thread Count, part of the Level Collection, which replicates the design of close-knot fabrics. These 24 x 24 modular tiles include a minimum of 70% post-consumer recycled PET and are 100% recyclable.
Novalis Innovative Flooring used NeoCon East as a platform to debut AVA, its commercially specified luxury vinyl flooring line. AVA is offered in 64 SKUs of planks and tiles across three collections.