1960s – Before NeoCon

The level of creative output in contract interiors at midcentury was astounding. Modernist visionaries whom we today consider legends presided over postwar American design. Florence Knoll assembled star designers and architects to create furniture for Knoll while she led the charge on office planning. George Nelson and Robert Propst conceived the Action Office at Herman Miller.

In the midst of this design renaissance, the first International Contract Exposition & Congress was planned for Chicago’s McCormick Place in March 1967 with more than 200 exhibitors. But fire destroyed the venue, and the Merchandise Mart, already home to the best furniture showrooms, took on the task of creating the industry event that would become NeoCon.