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Office Upgrade: Curbed's Best of NeoCon

Brighter, healthier, more collaborative: with all the positive affects of office furniture being evangelized at NeoCon, the annual commercial interior industry trade show in Chicago, it occasionally feels like the desire for a new boss, career or job should take a backseat to a new task chair. This year's edition found designers and furniture companies elaborating on the current trends toward more open, collaborative and ergonomic workspaces. While there may not have been any breakthroughs, there were plenty of pieces that may make you stand up (if your height-adjustable desk isn't already raised) and demand an office upgrade. Here are some of our favorites from the floors of the Merchandise Mart.

Best Desk as Metaphor: Hack by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra
Designed after a tour of Silicon Valley, the adjustable, stripped down Hack wooden desk prototype was built to fit into the rapidly changing office culture of top-tier startups. The positive spin suggests the unfinished look and easily adjustable surfaces are perfect for a similarly fast-paced individual. The negative spin is that it can just as easily be folded up and carted away when it isn't needed anymore.

Worst Seating for a Meeting With Your Boss: Prototype Love Seat by PearsonLloyd for Teknion
Part of an experimental collection designed by the London studio, this Love Seat is meant to challenge ideas of shared workspaces and personal space within the office. Somewhere within the simple lines of this beechwood chair, a line may have been crossed.

Best Collaboration Tool That Makes Designers Act Like Kids: Sketching Circles by Molo
Molo's accordion-like line of tables, wall dividers and chairs already have about all the whimsy a supposedly serious office can handle. Add these sketching circles atop the new Corain tabletop by Forsythe + MacAllen, and you'll have even the most focused designer doodling in no time. (Photo by Molo)

Best Seating for an Evil Genius: Prism Chair by David Adjaye for Knoll
Adjaye's recent designs for the venerable company—including the curvaceous metal Skeleton Chair and a new line of African-inspired textiles that debuted this year—showed him adapting older forms and reinterpreting tradition. The Prism Collection, the latest in his Washington line, appears to simply leap ahead, a polygonal design that screams seat of power.

Product Most Likely to Hang in a Gallery: Parentesit by Arper
Design collective Lievore Altherr Molina devised this minimal set of wall panels and screens in simple shapes and bold colors that could easily work outside the office. The moody, black-and-white promotional handout, which referenced James Turrell, Mark Rothko and nature photography, could have been mistaken for the liner notes for a doom metal band's album. (Photo by Marco Covi)

Best Optical Illusion You Can Step On: Moving Floors by Mohawk
This new op-art inspired line, devised by 13&9 (Martin Lesjak and Anastasija Sugic), mimics multi-textured, geometric art, presenting a different perspective based on your position in the room. It's certainly more fun to stare at during a long meeting than the wall. (Photo by Mohawk)

Best Reason To Hold an Outdoor Meeting: Anker by Extremis
While the Belgium company's small booth at the show didn't quite hint at the full possibilities of working out of doors, an off-site showcase within the offices of Chicago's MNML, filled with Extremis products including the new Anker Table, made the idea of working under artificial light seem even more painful.

Best Storage System That Would Look Good in Your Living Room: West Elm Midcentury Bench
While the floor was filled with office furniture that sought to mimic a more residential feel, West Elm's new office collection made the case that going from home décor to corporate might be a better strategy. Designed by the Brooklyn company and adapted for the office environment by Inscape, the entire collection, which included this stylish item, could definitely do double duty in your apartment.

Best Fabric Fit for Your Next Spacewalk: Lift by Konstantin Grcic for Maharam
In addition to a stylish, color-blocked Paola Lenti felt rugs, Konstantin Grcic's new fabric collection, created via refined industrial processes and not available until this winter, added some futuristic flair to Maharam's collection.

Best Way To Spell Something With Seating: Aluminum Bench by Jonathan Olivares
Bringing a new level of personalization to benching, Olivares's new seating system, designed with Zahner, offer an unprecedented amount of customization. Clients can utilize web-based software to shape a bench in myriad different ways—Olivares created custom end caps and support systems to allow for any number of twists and turns. Set up offsite at Volume Gallery, the sample bench and demo suggested a bench to match the endless desk will soon be in the works. (Photo by Document)

Most Eye-Catching Adaptive Reuse: 3form Full Circle Metallics
3form's booth was filled with visually stimulating patterns and wall art, but the Full Circle collection, which encases metallic foil in ecoresin, stood out for more than just its appearance. The company engaged local craftsman from the rural Indonesian valley of Wonosobo to create this modern spin on traditional foil art. (Photo via 3form)

Curbed's Best Of New York Design Week [Curbed]
New West Elm Office Furniture Line Gives You Midcentury Style (But Sadly, Not Midcentury Benefits, Space or Job Security) [Curbed]
Futuristic French Table Can Cool Your Office Without Electricity [Curbed]