• Chris Dowler

Design Solves Challenges - New Products and Ideas from NeoCon East

NeoCon East

Attended NeoCon East in Philadelphia. This is the premier design exposition and conference for commercial design on the East Coast and is sponsored by Interior Design. Attending conferences allows us to stay atop industry trends and to see and touch products to assess their utility for our customers.

We saw a lot of innovative products which can be useful for our customers such as the incredibly comfortable and ergonomically supportive office chairs from X-Chair. The innovative design facilitates movement and improved circulation, which increases focus and productivity; or Shaw’s “Off the Grid” line of carpet tile which is rich in texture and mimics the natural movement of wood and stone bringing a calming soft element to a generally cold, hard office environment.

Some products seem mundane but are true cost savers. For instance, Benjamin Moore just introduced their “Scuff-X” line – a new washable, scuff-resistant paint that is remarkable in its durability. All buildings seem to have marked up common stairwells and the cost to re-paint every few years is expensive in addition to being disruptive. Scuff-X, when compared to other paint finishes, was markedly better than the competition.

SpeakSpace by ICF ideas

Open floor plans have become the rage in large office design; the downside is the lack of privacy. We were surprised by the number of exhibitors offering modular privacy booths and or acoustic sound attenuating products.

Companies such as Emagispace and Unika Vaev offer a range from single pods with a seat and small shelf for a laptop that allows for a private conversation to larger pods that fit two-to-three or more for a breakout collaborative meeting. The single pods fit in an elevator and are just rolled into place. I particularly liked Unika Vaev's SpeakSpace fashioned after a London Phone Booth.

Bradley Corporation - Verge all-in-one sink system

We also saw a “duh” product – as in “Duh, why wasn’t this around years ago?”. Bradley Corporation introduced its “Verge” all-in-one sink system.

It combines a faucet, soap dispenser and air dryer in a single “WashBar”. No longer are wet hands dragged across countertops and floors leaving potentially slippery areas. And no more water stained walls from air dryers.

Keynote speaker Alex Gilliam explained how design provides solutions to problems and is not just an aesthetic quality. Through his non-profit, Public Workshop, Alex worked with community members to identify a challenge – encourage play and exercise in urban areas without traditional playgrounds.

Utilizing a participatory design-build process, Public Workshop co-designed and fabricated three prototype play structures along the business corridor. Installation of the structures gave community members a sense of ownership and helped develop new building skills. Read full article here.

Design derives from need; it identifies solutions to existing challenges. Good design constantly evolves to identify solutions for the next challenge. Do you have a challenge – a vacant, unleased space? or a perceived lack of space? or a badly outdated design scheme? Contact us to see how we can work with you to overcome the challenges you face.


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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