Back in the Social Sphere
After a couple of years out of the social sphere for obvious reasons, we were excited once again to form part of such a renowned trade fair. “The attendance was perfect for us. We had about the same amount of attendees in 2022 as in 2019, even though there were 75% fewer attendees overall at NeoCon, so that was strong,” states Matthew Negron, President of Dauphin Americas. There was a constant stream of people asking questions and wanting to know what Dauphin has been doing over the last three years.
Each exhibitor at the trade fair could have chosen to take their creations on a very different path. But, the trends were heading in the same direction, with a common theme among novelty products — ones that are easy to clean and good for the environment.
“Most people focus on raw materials and what they apply to the furniture. Outside of that, textile companies are worried about the types of vinyl they’re using and their cleanability,” recalls Negron. The pandemic has forced all businesses, including those in the furniture industry, to change course and adapt to the needs of the new normal.
Another recurring theme Matthew Negron witnessed at NeoCon was the attention paid to sustainability. “Everybody was trying to have an element of sustainability, of ‘being more green’ as a company through product and social practices.” Sustainability is an aspect that will not disappear, so companies must adapt and incorporate it into their values - not only their products. It can no longer be present at a purely superficial level.
There is no other choice than to incorporate sustainability into the very core of a design firm, as approximately 80% of the furniture produced ends up in landfills each year. Also, other factors, such as transportation and embedded carbon in raw materials, significantly contribute to climate change.
Dauphin, NeoCon 2022
It sounds like the Dauphin team made some interesting connections at NeoCon 2022. While details can’t be revealed now, Matthew mentions that many companies were seeking out Dauphin, interested in learning more about their new solutions in reshaping the workplace–be it open, blended, or hybrid–and in their programs in sustainability, well-being, and social responsibility. . “A lot of people scheduled a slot ahead of time to talk with us. There was a lot of traffic,” Negron told us.
The hustle and bustle of a busy trade fair is exciting. “On Monday, we actually had a line going out the door, and it wasn’t because of the free coffee!” jokes Negron. Dauphin witnessed its own line of end-users, members of the A&D community, and dealers, all coming together.
Dauphin’s Showroom. Opening Day, NeoCon 2022.
The Current Dynamic
NeoCon is a hub for the industry, and while a few showrooms have been lost in the last few years, new tenants have come along, and smaller, up-and-coming companies are filling the gaps with the excitement of what is to come. “It’s not all about just the big manufacturers,” says Matthew, “The show was catering towards those smaller-sized manufacturers. And while some of the bigger companies have disappeared, it was nice to see those smaller companies coming together. And still, we got a lot of attention.”
Dauphin’s product line was on point for what the market demands. As a well-established company with the ability to chop and change in the face of adversity, the solutions that Dauphin was showing at NeoCon were what people wanted to see in the post-pandemic era. Historically, task chairs were the center of attention, but now lounge furniture, soft seating, and space cubes are also in the spotlight.
The Bosse Cube
Speaking of space cubes, Dauphin set up a 10.5ft X 10.5ft Bosse Cube in the middle of the showroom, which undoubtedly grabbed visitors' attention. In addition, the products that Dauphin was showcasing were strategically placed to recreate the modern office.
“People were naturally gravitating towards us because of our exhibition,” comments Negron. The avalanche of interest around this specific product at the fair may be attributed to the space cube's ability to be built in 80 various sizes and its one-day assembly time. It is a very flexible device with ten times as many configuration choices as Dauphin's competitors' products.
Thirteen of Dauphin’s team were present at the event, including three members from the German division who had flown in. When we asked Matthew Negron if there was anything any of them saw at NeoCon that served as inspiration for a new idea, he reiterated the impact of the space cube. “Just the amount of curiosity and questions surrounding the Bosse Cube, we wanted to say <Yes, we can do that> to all of the queries. So we’ll definitely be looking at ways to improve our current line of products, especially as we had a lot of repeat questions, which makes you think <That’s probably something we should look into more>. It’s insightful.”
Dauphin Chicago Showroom, NeoCon 2022
Dauphin has a huge release coming later this year, Lounge Vibes, which will likely be integrated into the plans for NeoCon 2023 and Dauphin's showroom. It's a product line targeted toward the younger generation — given that Gen Z and millennials make up more than 50% of the workforce and shape how our modern-day offices are designed.
“The standard, the corporate look is fading away, and the future seems to be about fun and playful offices,” reveals Negron. From a marketing perspective, this is how Dauphin—and the industry as a whole—needs to look at positioning their products. Most of Dauphin’s current team also falls into this demographic, so the playful vibe can be seen internally and in the market, creating an interesting dynamic.
The NeoCon Experience
“Overall, the NeoCon experience was a positive one with great feedback,” concludes Matthew. He believes that having fewer overall attendees was actually a benefit, as it allowed for more in-depth conversations to take place. “You can really tell that everybody wants to make it a success,” he adds. “The trend is drifting away from competition, even among traditional competitors, and it’s forging collaboration, which is a nice reflection on society as a whole.”
One of the trains of thought that Dauphin has always had was reconfirmed at NeoCon 2022. It’s better to work together towards a common goal than to work against each other. This sentiment was echoed throughout the fair and it is present, every day, in Dauphin’s company culture. Human-centered design is what moves this industry.
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Negron, Matthew. Virtual interview. July 22, 2022.
RTS. "Furniture waste – The forgotten waste stream - Recycle Track Systems". Recycle Track Systems, November 10, 2020, www.rts.com/blog/furniture-waste-a-growing-issue/#:~:text=Furniture%20waste:%20The%20facts,of%20it%20went%20to%20landfill.