For much of the country, June means the start of summer and all that brings: vacations, beach reads, and warmer temperatures. But in the contract design world, June means one thing: NeoCon. The annual convention is an opportunity to launch new products, celebrate inspired design, and forecast trends. We spent three whirlwind days in Chicago soaking up the sights and shades and we’ve sorted through it all to bring you what we believe are the biggest trends of the year.
Trend #1: Grayed Out Palettes
Millennial Pink has dominated modern color palettes for years with its soft, nearly neutral take on the bubblegum shade of decades past. Now, it seems that designers are applying the same treatment to other hues. We saw everything from blues to greens to oranges toned down with grays for a softer, more sophisticated feel. Even patterns got the gray treatment. Shades of charcoal, slate, and ash were shot through with brighter colors to give off a complex, textured feel.
Trend #2: Saturated Colors
On the other end of the spectrum, some designers turned up the volume with saturated hues that popped against more neutral backgrounds. Many were laced with elements of white or gray for crispness, and bright shades formed focal points to highlight standout product design. Meanwhile, some designers went for all-out clashing, dipping into opposite sides of the color wheel for maximum contrast.
Trend #3: Yellows and Oranges
Whether softened with gray tones or dialed all the way up, sunny shades of yellow and orange stole the show in many displays. Perhaps designers were inspired by Pantone’s summery choice of Living Coral for its 2019 color of the year. Or they could be looking ahead to the latest color of the moment: Gen Z Yellow. This color of the next big generation was in evidence in many booths, displacing its mellower predecessor, Millennial Pink. A few steps away on the color wheel, the oranges of 2019 tend towards rusty terracotta shades that pair well with the gray, taupe, and blond wood popular in many modern designs.
Trend #4: Metallics
Trends always seem to go in cycles. So as we’ve seen the resurgence of midcentury-modern design and eighties and nineties styles in fashion, it was only a matter of time before the high-tech metallics of the early 2000s reappeared. And with the new millennium nearing its third decade, we might be seeing the first hint of this trend. The metallic elements at NeoCon 2019 ranged from subtle sheens and accents among the grayed-out palettes to coated fabrics that seemed to step straight out of sci-fi.
Trend #5: Bauhaus is Back
With 2019 marking the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus school’s founding, several designers paid homage to the original modernist movement. Geometric prints composed of primary colors evoked the back to basics aesthetic the movement espoused while softly colored versions and the prominence of plaid in many displays seemed to give a subtle nod to the style with an updated twist.
As we move into the second half of the year, we’ll be bringing you our take on the rising trends we think will be prominent in future designs. What colors are you hoping will surge to popularity?