Dezeen Magazine

Neocon Haworth furniture exhibition

Massive cloud-like daybed among experimental furniture at Design Lab in Chicago

Furniture designs by Eny Lee Parker, Maximiliano Rosiles, Brian Wooden, Chrissy Fehan and Bradley Bowers were selected by Italian designer Patricia Urquiola for American brand Haworth's showcase at NeoCon 2023.

The designers showcased a series of prototypes ranging from couches to room-spanning carpets for an exhibition at Haworth's showroom in Chicago during the annual furniture exposition Neocon in Chicago.

Eny Lee Parker Cloud day bed
Eny Lee Parker designed a cloud-like sofa for an exhibition curated by Patricia Urquiola

Urquiola and her studio, along with members of Haworth's in-house design team, curated the works, which were drawn from a variety of different milieus, from Detroit to Mexico City.

Urquiola told Dezeen that her aim for the exhibition was to achieve a certain "authenticity" by bringing people from different corners of the creative world to exhibit works.

Chrissy Fehan Phil lounge
Chrissy Fehan designed a chair with the texture of a dog to reduce stress

One of the most intriguing pieces was Cloud Bed by New York designer Parker. Striking in its difference from the heavily office-focused tenor of Neocon, Cloud Bed is a "sculptural" day bed meant for lounging.

It is able to fit at least two people, but was designed for laying down, and has a firm but forgiving structure with a soft texture.

Simple in its plushy form, the design stands out, leading one passerby to say they were "surprised no one had done this before".

Bradley Bowers designed outdoor furniture with a pattern based on magnetic fields. The photo is by Bradley Bowers.

With a similar style but a different approach, Detroit-based designer Fehan created Phil Lounge.

Named after her dog, the oversized chair is meant to be touched and has a texture remarkably similar to that of a dog. Fehan said the chair was meant to provide tactile comfort for those with anxiety.

"This piece was designed to playfully release stress by mimicking the soft feel of petting an animal, known to lower the stress hormone cortisol," said Haworth.

Street art area rug
Brian Wooden created an area rug that features his street art designs

Also in the seating category was a series of prototype tables called Polaris by New Orleans designer Bowers.

Created as outdoor furniture, the tables feature thin powder-coated aluminium rods that cluster and fan in a way that mimics magnetic fields, according to Bowers.

In line with Urquiola's desire to expand the scope of participants' disciplines was the selection of Inter-Dimension by Nashville-based graffiti artist Wooden.

As the rug spanned nearly a whole room, covering the floor and part of the wall it was set apart in a room separate from the section of the showroom dedicated to the Design Lab. It has cartoon-like images on its face and has a circular stool with the same pattern that emerges from its centre.

Mexican designer Maximiliano Rosiles worked with Urquiola, the Haworth team and industrial fabric manufacturer Tek-Knit to develop a shelving system called Split–1.

The "fragmented shelving system" features a series of hammock-like cuts of fabric suspended between wooden rods.

"[Split–1] deconstructs the form of a traditional shelf into something more unconventional and expressive," said Haworth.

"The form was reconstructed with materials and shapes that contradict each other, like metal and textiles, to create a mix of curved and sharp forms."

Fragmented shelving with fabric shelves
Mexican designer Maximiliano Rosile collaborated with Urquiola and Haworth on a shelving system

Haworth was founded in Michigan in 1948. Other standouts from its NeoCon showcase were the snaking communal office benches designed by UK architecture studio Foster + Partners for its subsidiary Paltrona Frau.

Other recent furniture exhibitions include one that explored collaboration through design at Denmark's 3 Days of Design and an exhibition that had designers create an "improvised" chair in three days at New York's design week.

The photography is by Eric Laignel unless otherwise stated. 

NeoCon took place from 12 to 14 June in Chicago, USA. For more exhibitions, talks and events in architecture and design, visit Dezeen's Event Guide.