Photo of Neocon Bulding

Design Review: IDP goes to NEOCON 2019 (Season 1, Episode 3)

Inclusive Designers Podcast
Inclusive Designers Podcast
Design Review: IDP goes to NEOCON 2019 (Season 1, Episode 3)
  • Edited by: Matthew Bogart
  • Guests: BAC associates- Denise Rush, and Jori Bercier
  • Profiled Neocon 2019 Vendors: List & contact info below

• Janet makes her way through Chicago’s annual Neocon convention and talks to the vendors that presented products of particular interest to Inclusive Designers. With 60 thousand attendees, Neocon is a great place to get caught up on all the newest and greatest products and techniques, and talk shop. We also answer the elusive question: just what does the name Neocon actually stand for?

Topics in this episode include: acoustic panels, furniture for behavioral issues, good health with standing desks and desk bikes, a VR rug/fiber tour, the benefits of Corian furniture, and even a discussion of the ‘sassiness’ of moss.

Special Thanks To:

Denise Rush, ASID, IIDA, is the Director of Undergraduate Interior Architecture in the School of Interior Architecture at The Boston Architectural College (The BAC). Denise is a registered/licensed interior designer and a NCIDQ certificate holder. Her project work encompasses several practice areas: commercial office, education, healthcare, and residential. The scope and location of the projects range from small to large scale and local to international.

Jori Bercier Is a masters student at the Boston Architecture College. She is an architecture lover, wellness designer, and researcher. Her work and interests focus on using evidence-based research to design healthier live-work- play spaces for all individuals. This topic is highlighted in her work as Founder of Scio (st͡si.o), a nonprofit centered in building community spaces to nurture well-being. Scio is currently designing a 5-acre healing garden in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico to help those who struggle with PTSD to heal from trauma.

Contact Info For Our Profiled Vendors:

  • Snow Sound–;
  • Green Wallscapes–;
  • Futrus Solutions–;
  • Stance Healthcare–;
  • Smart Pods–;
  • Flexispot/Desk bike–
  • Invista/Antron–; Lumena DNA™

Design Review: IDP goes to Neocon 2019


Janet: In this series we will be discussing specific examples of design techniques that can make a positive difference for people living with certain human conditions.

Carolyn: The more a designer understands the client and or the community the more effective and respectful the design will be.

(music up, then lower)

Janet: welcome to Inclusive Designers Podcast, I’m your host, Janet: Roche…

Carolyn: and I’m your moderator, Carolyn Robbins.

Janet: Today we’re going to take a look at the NEOCON 2019 which just took place in Chicago in June… what it is, what it means to designers, and also about some of the new products that could be of interest to inclusive designers.

Carolyn: Neocon calls itself the design industry’s launch pad for innovation—offering ideas and introductions that shape the built environment today and into the future. Since 1969, the design community has been converging at NeoCon to connect, learn, and do business. Known manufacturers as well as hot emerging companies showcase thousands of new products and services in categories including: Furniture, Fabrics, Flooring, Interior Building Products, Interior Finishes, and Technology. That gives you the textbook definition of what it is, but my co-podcaster can give you a bit more personal description of what it’s like. Janet, tell us a little about your recent visit to NEOCON and your experience as both a presenter, and as an attendee…

Janet: I took the opportunity to explore the floor at the mart in Chicago and talk to all sorts of people about their products and what makes them stand out from all the rest. We learned about the benefits of good acoustics with Cheryl Cramp at Snow Sound; we talked dirty about anti-microbial surfaces with the guys from Futrus; contemplate biophilia applications from Moss Boss Lindsay Scherr Burgess from Green Wallscapes; as well as a host of other healthy options for the workplace, such as healthy rugs; standing desks, one of my favorites; even took a desk for a ride…. Well, kind of. I also had a chance to talk with my colleague Denise: Rush, who is the dean and instructor of the Interior Architecture program at the Boston Architectural College where I also teach. We discussed the benefits students can get out of coming to Neocon…

• Denise: Rush/ BAC

Janet: I am here with somebody who I consider I’m very lucky to consider my friend. And I’m going to have her introduce herself.

Denise: BAC Okay. I’m Denise: Rush. I work at the Boston architectural College where I’m the dean of the Interior Architecture program.

Janet: And, what exactly does a dean at the architectural interior architectural program at the BAC do.

Denise: A lot of administrative work and I also teach a few classes but I’m always looking for the latest and greatest design information to share with the students and building the curriculum to improve it.

Janet: And, that’s why you come to Neocon.

Denise: Absolutely. It’s so many new product introductions or product re-dos. Lots of seminars and CEUs. So, it’s very educational and informative.

Janet: And, there’s nobody better than you to have that kind of education. You were the first person that told me about Neocon so I thank you very much. And so, what was your experience this year for Neocon 2019.

Denise: Well this year for the first time I had two students participating in the IIDA interior design student competition and so that was incredible to see the students who are the future of the profession be able to create a design solution in one day and present it to judges in professional manner. So that was for me as an educator it was my highlight.

Janet: And, you thought it went well.

Denise: Yes, I did.

Janet: any thoughts that you want to add to the idea, the conference…

Denise: Well I’m hoping to have more students come to the BAC and it was great seeing you as an alum and an educator of the BAC presenting at Neocon, so I hope to see more colleagues present and attend Neocon.

Janet: That would be great right. Thank you so much Denise, thank you for being my guest today.

Denise: You’re welcome

Janet: And, you have a good rest of the trip here

Denise: Will do

Janet: See you back in Boston

Denise: Yes, see you in Boston.

Carolyn: I know you also interviewed some of the vendors on the show floor too. Take us through some of the products you found that you think inclusive designers need to know about…

Janet: Well Carolyn, I did get a chance to talk to all sorts of different types of vendors but some of the ones I found the most interesting were the ones that came up with products that were dirty, sexy or even sassy. I first did a demo with a company called Snow Sound that makes noise dampening panels. This can be a very good resource for designing for noisy surroundings or for those that need to create a more calming setting…

Carolyn: and you don’t have to be an interior designer to know how very important that can be. Let’s take a listen…

Janet: was that a pun Carolyn?

Carolyn: it wasn’t intentional, but now that you pointed it out, yeah, y’know I like that.

Janet: yeah, it’s very you.

Carolyn: Meanwhile, here is your interview with Snow Sound.

• Snow Sound…

Janet: Here I am at Neocon 2019 and I met this lovely woman Cheryl Cramp from Snow Sound. And she’s going to talk a little bit about sound and how it’s important for us. Good afternoon Cheryl.

Cheryl – Snow Sound: Hi how are you.

Janet: I’m doing very well. Tell us a little bit about the different types of sound and what you guys do here at Snow Sound.

Cheryl: Okay great. So, snow sound came about. Basically, when you’re in snow and it falls in different layers and air pockets you get different types of densities. So, we want to cover all those types of absorption through those three densities the low the medium and the high. So that’s how our panels that had the patented technology inside of them so that it mimics how snow falls. And it’s very calm and serene. So, sound’s absorption we wanted to do that with our panel. So, with our patent technology we cover all three densities so that you get that same calming noise to get reverberation and echoing out of your space.

Janet: Terrific. Now, talk to my listeners a little bit about acoustics and what does that mean.

Cheryl: Sure. So, there’s three types of sound. Basically, there’s sound absorption, there’s sound blocking and then there’s sound masking. What Snow sound does is we do sound absorption. Let’s go into the different ones. So sound absorption is basically taking the frequencies and getting less echo and reverberation in a room. Sound blocking is basically used as a drywall or architectural glass and solid surfaces to block out noise. Sound masking is reducing white noise and speech privacy. So those are actual machines that you put in your rooms that make noise to get rid of any other noise. So, what we do is sound absorption, basically minimizing the noise and Echo and the reverberation in the room. We don’t want to kill noise. We just want to make it to have a comfortable conversation in a room. So, sound absorption you want to use make sure that you ask about an NRC rating…

Janet: Sorry, I’ll stop you right there. What is an NRC rating?

Cheryl: It’s called noise reduction coefficient. It’s a number that they test basically for how much material is absorbing the sound. So, think of it as a sponge, of sound absorption as a sponge. Like a sponge it absorbs water. So, an acoustic panel would basically absorb sound with the NRC rating that soaks it up. Sound absorption is a process where sound waves is taken up and soaked in both those surfaces. So Sound absorption products are intended to absorb the unwanted noise like Echo within a space. But again, we’re not trying to reduce or make it silent. We’re just trying to minimize the echo and reverberation in a room.

Janet: Terrific. Thank you. So, Cheryl’s going to take us into the Snow Sound experience room. It is a metal room which is made of steel. What is it about. Maybe six by six, six feet by six feet right. And we’re going to experience the sound in terms of what it sounds outside in the conference area. Then also inside the box. And then she will show us the difference with the Snow Sound fibers on the wall. So why don’t we talk a little bit about Snow Sounds’ different types of fibers and different types of products and what are we going to experience in the experience room.

Cheryl: Great. So, we actually have all our panel collections which is our traditional it Snow Sound technology panels. And then we also have our fiber finished products which is our fabric line and that has a different type of technology in it. And it’s based on a soft interwoven polyester acoustic fiber that interaction between the special fiber and how it’s woven and that’s how our fabrics work within the space.

Janet: So, myself. and Cheryl and Jori. We’re going to go into this now sound experience room. The next sound you will hear is inside the experience room prior to the fibers being attached to the wall.

– inside Experience Room

Janet We also have Phil Buchanan here today. We’re doing a little podcast and we’re talking about how this particular experience is really drives home the point of having different types of acoustic panels and acoustic. What would you call it?

Cheryl: Acoustic solution.

Janet: Acoustic solution.

Cheryl: Acoustic Experience. So, we’re in a room that’s boxed up made out of steel and you hear a lot of echoing and reverberation in the room. And so, we’re going to show you how our snow sound fiber which is our fabric textile works. So, I’m just going to keep on talking because I want you to hear the difference as soon as I pull this out. So, my voice I’m not changing the volume of my voice. I’m just talking in my normal tone that I was. but Pulling out one side of the fabric just reduced a little bit of the echo and the reverberation in the room. And now I’m pulling out the second type of fabric and the echo and the reverberation is completely gone in the space.

Janet: I mean it’s still the same metal box that we walked in to. But now it literally has what I would argue are curtain panels, but it has your particular type of fiber on them. That’s the weave that’s in there. And it has brought the vibration and the acoustics down to almost nothing. So now we’re going. So, we have just finished up the experience and now you’re going to remove the panels.

Cheryl: Right now, it sounds really, really great in here. And I think I’d like to have a conversation here. But now I’m going to remove one and then make sure that it’s starting to echo a little bit now. So that’s one and now I’m going to completely remove the second one and we’re going to go back to the way that the room just sounded when we just got here with nothing. No acoustics whatsoever inside.

Janet: And Philip gives two thumbs up.

Philip: Oh yeah. Definitely. Solve the problem, great solution. So.

Cheryl: It’s magic.

Janet: It is magic.

– Back on show floor

Janet: So, Cheryl you were telling me something kind of interesting about how Snow Sound was coming up with some design solutions for the workplace. Do you want to talk to the listeners a little bit about that and what was going on, what were those solutions and what was the outcome?

Cheryl: Yeah great. So, when we’re designing for a workplace, we want to make sure that there’s productivity right. So, a lot of disruptions happen when you have an open workspace when there’s no more cubes and you’re all working together collaboratively. You’re hearing noises -other people talking, you hear music going on. So better acoustics in the workplace is going to increase more productivity. It has proven benefits for employee well-being as well as satisfaction and comfort. So, with Snow Sound technology, it significantly enhances and environments acoustics by selectively absorbing that optimal amount of sound at different frequencies and reducing unwanted reverberation which makes for a happy and healthy workplace.

Janet: Cheryl: that was fantastic. We love that information and I know my listeners do too.

Cheryl: Well, thank you so much for visiting snow sound. We really appreciate it.

Janet: Thank you so much Cheryl.

Carolyn: If you were listening on headphones, you probably could hear the echo drop out even more. …

Janet: I was definitely impressed with the demonstration… as was Phil.

Carolyn: Staying on the topic of sound dampening, you discovered another product that provides it in a green way…

Janet: yes, Green Wallscapes uses moss to both bring some biophilia into a space and adds acoustic benefits as well.

Carolyn: Let’s hear about how it is used in both office and healthcare settings.

• Green Wallscapes

Janet: So now here I am with.

Lindsay: Hi I’m Lindsay with Green Wallscapes. We do preserved moss walls, logos, lettering, art for commercial interiors all over the country. We started our business kind of by accident. We saw something we liked on Pinterest and then started making pieces and people started calling us and then we now have done over 120 projects in the last year. So, it’s a really exciting thing. I think we’ve jumped on the bandwagon at the right time and it’s really, really awesome.

Janet: Can you speak a little bit about moss. Well I mean we have an idea what moss is, but can you talk to the listeners a little bit more about what is moss and how you can apply it.

Lindsay: Sure. So, with our application you can do it on the walls, you can do it on the ceilings, you can insert it into furniture, you can use it as you know compliments to acoustic tiling… There’s a lot of different applications that can be used for it. We specialize in very custom pieces- we can do paneling and we do that very, very well and we are very cost effective with that, but we really specialize in someone who wants something that’s really out of the box and wants to bring nature into their spaces. It’s also a great application where there’s not a lot of light. There isn’t a lot of… there’s no requirements for watering or other things like that. So, there’s not a huge maintenance application with this. So, it’s a really nice solution for people who just aren’t and wishes most office environments where they just don’t want to deal with it. They don’t want to pay for the maintenance. They do want to worry about plants dying they don’t worry about insects they just want something that’s beautiful and green on the walls. And I can tell you what clients have called me and said like I just feel better when I’m looking at this and that’s part of sort of what we were talking about earlier. You know that biophilic design you know really resonating with our true nature. And so, it’s a really great way to do that without all the maintenance and the hassle of having living plants. We love living plants we have plenty of them in our studio we can encourage people to do living applications. It’s just this is a more cost-effective, easier application for walls, and it can be done in a lot of different ways.

Janet: Well you just kind of really nicely sum that all up. I don’t have a lot more questions… two things, talk a little bit about the health care Application that you did just recently and also then talk to the listeners a little bit more about the upkeep and what does that mean in terms of cleanliness. I think people get a little worried about dust and that kind of thing, but we’ll start with the, you know, the example of the health care application and describe the situation and what the benefits were.

Lindsay: So you know we’ve gotten calls from doctors’ offices and other places who want to do this, this is, it’s not, there’s no allergy, it’s not a living material, so, there’s no allergies associated with Moss itself when it’s living doesn’t really have a lot of allergens or anything like that. So, in terms of benefits in that space it does create like kind of a natural organic acoustical panel so that helps keep that sort of olfactory issue down. We don’t, we haven’t certified all of this stuff yet but it makes sense, it’s a, it’s a poofy material you’re sticking on the wall, it’s going to have some acoustical benefits and then you know, the other thing is, like I said, it’s that sort of wellness from like just looking at something beautiful and looking at something natural. In terms of cleaning, we suggest people either mist it with water or you can also blow dry it with like on cold and that only needs to be done in like a couple of times a year. Again, it’s really just you know you put it on the wall, you enjoy it and it’s better not to touch it. It doesn’t like a lot of attention you know it doesn’t want people touching and interacting with it too, too much.

Janet: The Moss doesn’t want any attention.

Lindsay: Yes, it doesn’t want any attention. I like to say that it’s a little sassy when we first put it in. It’s always like, a little bit like, it needs a minute and that it you know it’s happy and it knows it’s got its new home. So no, it’s a really fun thing and like I said, if you want panels, we do that, if you want logos, we do that, if you want cool lettering… There’s a lot of really funky applications that we’ve started to do that are very outside of the box. So…

Janet: Well that’s terrific Lindsay and green wallscapes is the name of the company and it will be put up on Inclusive-Designers-dot-com website. And thank you so much Lindsay for stopping by today.

Lindsay: Thank you so much for having me.

Carolyn: Who knew Moss could be sassy!

Janet: I like how she calls herself the Moss Boss, she’s kind of sassy herself.

Carolyn: Now moving on to some of the options for furniture. Who impressed you there?

Janet: I met with the founders of Futrus who make Corian furniture. They have the ability to create unique designs that can be very adaptable for use in healthcare…

Carolyn: Here is that interview with the co-founders of Futrus…

• Futrus- Corian Furniture

Janet: I am still here at Neocon day two and I am here with…

James: James Lee co-founder of Futrus.

Mark: Mark Allen head designer and co-founder of Futrus.

Janet: And Futrus is spelled f-u-t-r-u-s, yes. And all the information will be on the Inclusive-Designers-dot-com website. So, I found what you guys do quite, quite interesting. Tell me a little bit about, I don’t know who wants to start, alright, So Mark is going to start first… Tell me a little bit about the company and the product and the people that you’re serving.

Mark: yeah, so, Futrus is a casework and furniture company that’s really focused on building products with Corian and so we’re exclusively built with Corian quartz, and Corian solid surface. And we mainly focus on not only health care, but commercial spaces and providing those kinds of solutions that are built to last, durable, adaptable, and really going to stand the test of time.

Janet: Now what makes your product stand out, and your company stand out, versus other companies that might be here at the show.

James: So, I think there’s a few things that really sets us apart from other manufacturers. One is that our designs are very much adaptable. So, you know they have a lot more flexibility in terms of design. So, whether it’s the sizes it’s the base styles, it’s the colors, we offer a lot more design flexibility than other companies. Another thing that we did was alongside DuPont’s R & D team we developed a patented structural system. So, what this enables designers to do is actually increase the scale of their solutions without the need of additional support. So, for instance, we can build this Parson’s table to about 12 feet without the additional support in the middle. The structural framing system also provides greater durability, impact resistance, and it also allows Corian to expand and contract in different heat. If you don’t use the structural framing system like ours then there is sometimes the danger of the Corian actually splitting but with our system that we ensure complete structural stability.

Janet: Now I was here yesterday and one of your sales reps had told me, I thought it was kind of fun fact that you guys because of these particular types of systems that you put into place that you can kind of really mold the furniture into basically anything that I want. Is that correct.

Mark: That’s true we have a set number of standard shapes and sizes but then there’s some as James mentioned adaptability to what you can do with it and that leads us into other products, and we do quite a bit of applications using our systems.

Janet: Now one of the things that as designers for health and well-being, we are very concerned with corners and so you could easily mold something and create like rounded edges.

Mark: Absolutely soft round corners are very big in the industry obviously especially in health care. So, we’ll see a lot of that used as a detail and that certainly helps protect patients.

Janet: And lastly can use just speak a little bit about the benefits that Corian provides. I know it’s anti-microbial. Can you give us any statistics on that?

James: So, its anti-microbial, it’s also the only solid surface that’s Green guide certified against microbial growth. So, that’s the one thing that really sets us apart in terms of certifications. It’s obviously seamless, so there’s no areas for bacteria to collect dirt and germs, It’s bleach cleanable, It’s food rated, its fire rated a one, it’s low b-o-c, but the things that really set Corian apart as well is, unlike certain other solid surface manufacturers, the certifications run across every single color that Corian provides, as opposed to just say a handful of colors from other solid surface manufacturers. So, with Corian you really do get that trust across the entire brand offering.

Janet: Absolutely, they are known throughout the industry, but I thought it was kind of great, and what you guys do and the ability for designers then to create their own product out of your materials, which is fascinating.

Mark: it’s really about creating unique looks and maybe surprise areas taking the product and really using it in a unique way is really part of our DNA.

Janet: Terrific. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you so much for fur for having me stop by. Thank you.

Carolyn: I just learned that Corian is anti-microbial too. Good to know.

Janet: anti-microbial is important not only in healthcare settings but if you have a client who has a weak auto immunity. And the products Futrus were exhibiting at Neocon were really fantastic.

Carolyn: That’s great. Moving along, who did you talk to next Janet?

Janet: I learned about a new product line from a furniture company called Stance that takes behavioral problems and patient safety into consideration in designing their furniture.

Carolyn: we’ll let them explain more about that…

• Stance Healthcare

Craig: Hi I’m Craig Gustafson. I’m the national sales director for Stance Healthcare and we are a health care company but a lot of our products end up in different areas and one of our specialties which we’ll talk about today is behavioral health and what products we manufacture and sort of where we’re going with that to help sort of humanize that environment and bring in a lot of different aspects of comfort in places that can be kind of scary sometimes.

Janet: I think that that’s so fabulous. So, we’re standing in sort of in the middle of the show room here at Neocon. And can you talk to us a little bit about some of the products that you guys are showing today.

Craig: Sure. Yeah, we’ve got some standard products that we’re using for our, sort of, our standard health care product offerings. Some of those will be adapted for behavioral health as well that do not look like behavior health products but really are built extremely well, safe, durable and easy to clean. The things that you need to literally look at when you’re looking at behavior health environments. And today one of our new products is we’re looking at here is called our frontier series. And so, it’s hard to make plastic look sexy, but I’ll tell you some of the different things about it that are fairly unique.

Janet: All right. So, we are actually looking at a plastic bed and two plastic sideboard or side tables. Right. So, can you. Right. So, because we were not, we will try to post some pictures and we will have links on the Inclusive-Designers-dot-com website, but just for listening purposes can you talk to us a little bit about the product.

Craig: Sure. Yeah. This is a called our ‘Frontier Series’ and it’s actually polyethylene based. And so, it’s a Roto molded product. What’s unique about it is we’ve actually added foam inside for a couple of things— one to add weight to it, so, it’s very difficult for someone to move this around in a patient room. And again, this is for a patient room that people may be abusive or with the environment like adolescents— which I had four adolescence and they were abusive with furniture and they weren’t even in behavior health facility— But also you know some people that may be harmful to themselves or others. And so, what we’ve done is we’ve tried to make obviously safety is our number one concern, you know durability and you know, we know what’s going to be used and you know, possibly abused, so we want to make sure that’s extremely durable. So, with this product, what we’ve done, we’ve taken a standard bed which a lot of them are hollow inside, but we put foam in it to do one two things— one, add weight to it. So, it’s very difficult to pick this up and move it around, it’s extremely heavy. We can also bolt it to the floor using a cam lock sort of mechanism. And then what we’ve done too is what sometimes in this population you have issues with incontinence or spills. So, we’ve actually, have sort of a moisture system that we’ve taken channels. And so, when you do have, when you do have liquids, this will sort of dissipate to the side. You can do a quick cleanup and then get you know housekeeping to come into it to really do a deep clean on the mattress so it’s not as icky when you pick it up and there’s lots of fluid. So, this is very unique. We’re the only ones that are doing this right now. So, we think again about safety, durability. We also scallop the sides, so that way when you’re getting in and out of the bed it’s very easy and comfortable. So their thighs are not being hit when you’re doing that. And then our bedside tables, those simply flip over so you can use it if someone’s keeping a journal or coloring etc. for the top or like you see on the other side you can put your clothing on the top and then maybe your store your shoes on the side.

Janet: So, what we’re actually looking at is one depending on which side is up. It’s a smaller shelf or a larger shelf isn’t it.

Craig: Yeah, it’s very simple but these are sort of ambidextrous, you can flip them around depending on what the use is. so yeah, it’s, this is a newer product and we’re the only ones that are doing this making it this way so it’s fairly unique.

Janet: That’s terrific. And so are there any other benefits to this particular system that you can think of that before, before we sign off.

Craig: Yeah. Again, safety and durability and so we’ve got a nice color palette that we’ve taken, this muted colors and add some design to it because some of the ones that are out there are pretty industrial looking. And so just it’s more soothing and that’s the color palette was very, very carefully selected by our Behavioral Specialist Suzanne Farley and so she’s really was the one that designed this whole product line.

Janet: Has she talked to you about any other reasons why she came up with these particular design ideas Suzanne. Did you think that she would want you to add anything, like in terms of like health and wellness so that somebody who is having behavioral problems and in terms of the furniture? What do you what do you think.

Craig: Yeah, I think what we’re trying to do is build-in the safety and durability in this product line. And again, not have it be scary looking. And so, it’s inviting in the color palette we chose, and she was very selective about that what colors would really help in the healing process and in our showroom, we see we’re bringing in a lot of green. We’ve got more of sort of a garden feel because it works in regular health care environments it’s really working in behavioral health and we’re finding that a lot of patients too are, part of their therapy is planting and really helping nurture plants outside and bringing that into the environment.

Janet: Right the whole Biophilia aspect of a lot of the furniture that I’m seeing here and all your pieces and how you’re designing things is really it’s coming it’s coming through and as a designer who appreciates Biophilia, and the help that it provides and calming the mind and the soul and every fiber of your being. that’s just fabulous. Thank you so much for joining us today Craig.

Craig: thank you. Appreciate it.

Janet: Craig was informative on Stances’ Frontier series and I think he hinted at the idea that the series was sexy. He was a great interview.

Carolyn: Sexy furniture is always good.

Janet: yes, it is.

Carolyn: Let’s now turn to some of the new technology, I imagine you must have seen some interesting gadgets. Anything in particular that is worth sharing here?

Janet: yes, actually there were quite a few. Here’s one I thought was cool, it’s a new way to get folks moving more in the workplace on a regular basis. And it was created by a physical therapist at Smart Pods technology. He gets the desk actually moving to move up and down during the day to ensure that you are sitting and standing.

Carolyn: Sounds like something we can all use. Let’s hear more about that.

• Smart Pods

Janet: And who am I standing next to.

Leon: Leon DeRoche, CEO with Smart Pods.

Janet: And what does smart pods do.

Leon: So, in a nutshell Smart Pods, my background as a physiotherapist. What we decided to do a few years ago was to try to get people moving more into the workplace. So, we were aware as well as some of my clients or some of my patients had sit/stand desks. But they just weren’t using them.

Janet: And why is that.

Leon: Uh as a matter of fact less than 10 percent of the population does end up using them and simply it’s because they’re too focused on what they’re doing on a regular basis, so, they get focused on their screen and even though they should move well they don’t necessarily move. So, our device what it does it actually automates the whole system so users can actually enter their information specifically to how often they want to move and then they just have to work and as they’re working the desk will actually start to rise and lower. But what that does, it brings nutrition to their joints. It allows the muscles to move and it just allows the person to feel better.

Janet: Terrific. Now so can you explain to our listeners because they can’t see what’s going on. And again, just want to remind my listeners that Smart Pods will have all their information on the website inclusive-Designers-dot-com. But in the meanwhile though, can you explain a little bit better again to somebody you can’t see right now what you’re talking about.

Leon: Yeah. So essentially what we’ve done is we’ve developed a control box that just replaces the handset on a desk. And this control box is embedded with sensors, so it looks at occupancy light temperature and sound. But once it’s actually attached to that desk the user can either just download an application and then they just enter their profile and then they will start to move customized to them. Right.

Janet: Well I see on the desk you have what looks like maybe you make my smartwatch. Do you know. Is it right. Is what. What is that. What am I looking at?

Leon: Right. So, you have two options you can either just connect to a control box via a tablet that resides just on your desk, or you can, you don’t necessarily need that tablet. You can actually just download the application on a laptop. So, the nice thing about the laptop is if you’re in an unassigned desk area you just have to move that laptop from a desk to desk. When you arrive at that desk, the desk will lower to your height and continue to do your activity profile, so you continue to move which is a healthy component.

Janet: And we all know that that’s a good thing. What are they saying now, that sitting is the new smoking?

Leon: That’s correct. So, sitting is the new smoking. And people are starting to realize the negative impact of sitting. So, they really want to start moving. They just don’t always have the ability to do so. So, with a technology like this it just makes it so much easier.

Janet: Now one of the things that you had suggested and I think it might be a selling point for you is the idea that it is, that it can help with productivity and that people like management can see what, H.R. can see, what their employees are doing. Can you speak a little to that?

Leon: Yes. So, what we do is again it’s all in the health and wellness side. So, a facilities or H.R. managers can start to look at potentially different departments, you know, so they can look at one department versus another. If they’re moving more, moving less, than they can start to make that correlation into productivity. We’ve seen just for the simple fact that, you know, we look at temperature. We know that sometimes when the temperature is too high in facilities we start to see people moving less. So, these are just things that should be considered when you’re starting to build buildings or looking at the environment.

Janet: Thank you so much for bringing up that very important part as somebody who’s very sensitive to temperature. I find that temperature is one of the least things that people kind of talk about and it always differs between men and women as well in the work force. So, thank you for mentioning that and maybe I’ll get into that in another show at some point. So, thanks for the little nudge. I’m going to throw you a bit of a curve ball. So, one of the things that I do, and this (podcast) is called Inclusive Designers, but it’s really about health and wellness. But for me, I also wonder about people who might be in a wheelchair or people who might be a, you know, less capable. maybe somebody has MS, it might not even be that they’re in a wheelchair. And how do you design around that and what would your recommendations be for people who would want to buy a desk like this.

Leon: So, say for instance you are as a physical therapist you know we have some of those clients that are in wheelchairs, so the desk or not the desk, but the technology itself can accommodate to some of those things. It could get the desk to move not necessarily in a standing position but in a different position because those people also have to move the upper limbs right the shoulders the back, the thoracic spine, so it could also be beneficial to them right in that sense. We have new features that will be coming out in Q3 Q4 which really touches exercise and stretching at your desk. So, it combines all those components. So even though you would have, you know, potentially be in a wheelchair, you could have other features that smart appliance technology offers like stretching and other types of breaks that could be beneficial for the end user.

Janet: That is so terrific. Thank you so much. Anything else you want to add for Smart Pods. Smart pods I really love it. By the way, I’m from Massachusetts. We would say— smAHt pods, Smaht Pahds— So is there anything else you want to add before I go.

Leon: No I just think it’s exciting for us to be able to uh to be here, number one and be affiliated with some of these companies that we’re working with but it’s really exciting as a physical therapist to be able to see people actually starting to move in the workplace not having to think about it. So, no, it’s great. It’s fantastic. Thank you very much for the opportunity.

Janet: Thank you for giving me that couple minutes to interview you. I know you’ve been very busy. Thank you so much. Have a great rest of the show.

Leon: Thank you very much.

Carolyn: I like that.

Janet: I really did like the idea of a standing desk that forces you to move. I have a standing desk, but it does not move, at all. I’m one of those people he referenced that doesn’t use a standing desk as a standing desk. I sit at my standing desk.

Carolyn: So, this would be a good product for you.

Janet: This would be an excellent product for me. I really did like this.

Carolyn: You heard it here first, it was highly recommended.

Janet: that’s right.

Carolyn: And it keeps you moving while you’re focused at your desk.

Janet: While I really liked the moving standing desk, there was an actual exercise desk with a bike attached, which may not work out for everyone, but I thought it was worth trying it out.

Carolyn: by trying it out, you mean you had your associate Jori take it for a spin…

Janet: I did try it, but yeah, I totally let Jori work it…

Carolyn: Let’s see how that went…

• Desk Bike

Janet: Now we’re here at Loch tech Ergonomic where Jori my lovely assistant is now testing out what is basically a stationary bike with the desk attached to it. And I thought I would have her give a little run and see if she likes it. I think it’s called Flex Spot. I’m not too sure. The sales reps actually ran away from us. I don’t. We’re not quite sure why. But anyways. Alright so, Jori, tell us a little bit about your experience here on this exercise, I don’t know, desk, right?

Jori- on bike desk: Exercise desk, I think, would be appropriate. It’s pretty interesting. It’s definitely resembles an older style of exercise bike. There aren’t any foot pedals which is a little strange like a foot pedal holder so keep your foot in…

Janet: They’re called foot clips.

Jori: Foot clips? No foot clips.

Janet: … or shoe clips, but I know what you mean. There’s nothing to hold your feet in there. They’re just they’re just they’re all old-fashioned pedals.

Jori: Correct. So on a safety wise and like comfort wise it’s not the total best, but in the whole idea of like productivity left and right brain being activated at the same time especially considering there is a desk attached to it and it encourages it as a workspace, it’d be actually pretty efficient. I wouldn’t mind having one at home.

Janet: Now do you think you’re going to be able to work on that? Or is it, I mean, how about reading are you getting seasick or are you able to… kind of like you’re playing on a mock Computer right now.

Jori: I could see it being a little difficult especially depending upon the task. For me as someone who’s constantly using Adobe or AutoCAD which takes a little bit of finesse it could be pretty difficult. But in the sense of perhaps reading or usually whenever I actually use exercise bikes, I’m playing video games so it could work pretty well in that sense. I think it’s just detailed work but writing papers. Sure.

Janet: Do you think you’re going to be. You would be able to actually use a pen to paper. I’m assuming drawing would be out. y’know, would you feel comfortable, do you think, actually say writing like a grocery list?

Jori: Honestly, I don’t know that I could it’s a little bit like pat your head and rub your tummy. You know I don’t know that I am capable of that. but that seat, like partially what right now would prompt me to say ‘no’ is the way the desk is oriented. But I do know that the seat and the petal heights and everything like that can change which might have a better effect on being able to write and such things like that.

Janet: Yeah, they did before they ran away. They did show us that the desk could move closer to your body or further away depending on, right and, depending on what you felt more comfortable with. Well Jori thank you so much for being our little test subject here at Loch Tech Ergonomic and looking at the bike desks.

Jori: You’re welcome. Yeah. No one else to talk to so here you go.

Janet: Yeah. Nobody wanted to talk to me and they’re all looking at me from the corner of the room. It’s pretty funny. All right onto the next gig.

Carolyn: so, for this bike desk, was there no ‘spokes-person’ around?

Janet: Bad pun, but correct. I did take a Virtual Reality demo for a ride and learned about some great new options for carpeting by Antron…

Carolyn: and we did get to experience it with you, virtually anyway.

• Antron Carpets

Janet: I’m here with Shea, is that how you pronounce your name. Shea Hinman. With Antron, and I’m going to go, and they have this very cool virtual reality setup that I’m going to get ready to experience.

– Virtual Reality Demo

Janet: Oh gosh. Oh. oh boy. Wow. We’re looking at the carpet. oh. ew. Up to two times better texture retention. Oh. Here we go. And I’m going around the bend. Up to 10 times better stain resistance. uh oh, I’m being vacuumed on in my 3D reality. Up to 65 percent better soil resistance. Okay. I’m following the speck around the bend. A clean environment is a healthy one. Love that. Goodbye speck. ooh. Antron fiber please remove your headset at this time.

– Back on Show Floor

Janet: Hi. I’m here with…

Kathy: Kathy Forsthoffer with Invista/Antron brand.

Janet: Well I appreciate the demonstration I was it was you know it was quite the experience I don’t know how else to describe it. I never thought that carpets would be so much fun, right. So, one of the things that I learned from the virtual reality experience was is that the you know the carpet has, the fibers have a better performance and are able to be cleaned.

Kathy: …easier to clean, they stay easier to clean. And when there is dirt in there, it’s hidden, so, it makes it. Healthier. Safer. Better for clean-ability.

Janet: So, what makes Antron stand out. And what makes Antron healthier, a healthier product for our other designers to think about in putting into their particular project.

Kathy: It’s more cleanable, more readily cleaned and if it’s cleanable then it’s going to be a more healthy environment. It’ll capture the dirt and hide it and then it’s very easily cleaned upon vacuuming and hot water extraction. Our unique fiber shape and a cross section make that so our new Antron Lumina DNA it’s all built in. It can’t be washed off or vacuumed out. The performance attributes and so you have a long-lasting durable carpet for the life of your carpet.

Janet: That’s terrific, and I also thought it was interesting I came by yesterday because I was kind of fascinated about what you guys do. I had talked to one of your sales reps that said also because of this particular fiber. It’s less prone to rutting and so things like wheelchairs. It’s not a problem for wheelchairs. Can you speak a little bit to that?

Kathy: So, our fiber is also made from nylon 6-6 which is a much more durable…

Janet: Can you explain 6-6 What does that mean is that just a random number. What are we talking about here.

Kathy: No, it’s where the, it’s the nylon. The actual polymer that the fiber is made of is called nylon 6-6 versus polyester or nylon 6 or other polymers. That polymer has a more, dense structure and therefore the texture retention. Is better than other polymers.

Janet: I like that texture retention.

Kathy: So, you’re talking about the crushing and matting that would get by traffic and wheelchairs, nylon 6-6 is much more resilient to bounce back after it’s been crushed and matted.

Janet: Terrific. Thank you so much Kathy was so much so great to meet you and it was a fabulous trip, y’know, to do the virtual reality. For everybody listening, we will have on Inclusive Designers-dot-com, all the information that we just talked about. Maybe even we’ll have some sort of version of the virtual reality we can we can hook you up with that as well. All right. Thank you. Thank you so much Kathy.

Kathy: Thank you. And just remember that fiber does matter.

Janet: You heard it here first at Neocon fiber does matter. And clearly it does. That’s awesome. Thank you.

Carolyn: I love that line ‘fiber matters’ too… that one floored me.

Janet: I didn’t think it was possible, but your puns are getting worse. It was fun though.

Carolyn: and speaking of fun, let’s tackle one last mystery from Neocon… just what the name stands for.

Janet: I was asked, and I wasn’t sure. Everyone knows this show and what it’s about, but not everybody knows what the name stands for. So, I took to the show floor to see if it was just me…

• What Neocon means…

Janet: So, we’re coming to the end of my stay here at Neocon and I was just going to start going around and asking people if they know the answer to this very quick and should be simple question. Just so you know I don’t know the answer, and so I am just going around asking people if they do. What does Neocon stand for?

Manny: You got me there. That is actually a really good question. I didn’t know it stood for anything. I thought it was just the name.

Janet: Yeah. I think that might actually be the right answer, quite frankly. But I I’m not sure. So, I’m just going to go around start asking people what they know.

Manny: It’s going to be good. Somebody is going to know the answer to that, but I definitely do not.

Janet: Do you know what Neocon stands for.

Cheryl: that is a great question. And I do not know that answer.

Janet: You are not alone.

Cheryl: What is the answer?

Janet: I don’t know. I’m hoping to find out. You could have told me. It means something completely off the charts and I would have no idea.

Janet: What does neocon stand for.

Kathy: Neocon stands for a collaboration of commercial interiors, a place to learn about the new and innovative things that are out there and to re-fresh networking opportunities with all of our colleagues around the globe.

Janet: Well that’s a very interesting answer. But is that actually what neocon words say.

Kathy: I have no idea.

Janet: No idea. Well you’re not alone. Nobody knows. But I liked your answer.

Janet: What does Neocon stand for.

Leon: What does it stand for. For me personally.

Janet: No, no. Just in general. What does it mean. What does Neocon mean.

Leon: You know what that’s a great question. I don’t really know what Neocon means. As far as the terminology.

Janet: Again, you’re not alone Right, right, right, right, right, right. Everybody, everybody is like we don’t know. And the reason why I am asking the question is because I don’t really know either

Janet: I I’ve been going around and asking a lot of the people that are exhibitors here and if they know exactly what Neocon stands for…. everybody I’ve asked nobody knows. They all say to me it’s a good question. So, I feel good about myself but that’s about. The amount that you said of it. So, can you actually inform the listeners as to what the why it’s called Neocon.

Denise: … so the Neocon stands for the National Exposition Of Contract Furniture. simple as that.

Janet: Aha.

Denise: … y’know, just for a shortcut Neocon. So that’s our loving name for it.

Janet: And everybody knows it as Neocon. I mean clearly that I mean you just have to say Neocon and people are pretty wowed or they know what it is.

Denise: they don’t know what it means but they know to come.

Janet: That sounds about right. Thank you so much.

Carolyn: I was guessing that the con stood for conference.

Janet: Right?

Carolyn: … but it doesn’t. their website says it’s the “National Exposition of Contract Interior Furnishings”. Seems like it should be N-E-O-C-I-F instead, so Neocif?

Janet: No. It’s still Neocon, it’s been that way for over 50 years. It’s just been Neocon.

Carolyn: Okay, so, we hope you enjoyed our review of Neocif, or Neocon I-F, where the I-F is silent. We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Neocon, I-F.

Janet: I think it still sounds better as Neocon…. but, if any of you get to go to Neocon next year, you can test people you meet to see if they know what it stands for.

Carolyn: and that seems like a good point to stop for today.

Janet: Agreed. and of course, we will post all of our resources we covered in this episode on our web page at…

Carolyn: and we look forward to your feedback too. Send us an email at…

Janet: until our next podcast episode, Stay well and stay well informed. Thanks for listening.

Carolyn: yes, thanks again.

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