Economy
8:19 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

West Michigan’s big three getting lots of attention at office furniture show in Chicago

Grand Rapids-based Steelcase, Holland based-Haworth and Zeeland-based Herman Miller are showing off new lines of chairs, collaborative office spaces, and home offices at the annual show for the office furniture industry show known as NeoCon.

Together, West Michigan’s ‘big three’ sell nearly $6 billion in office furniture a year; making up more than half of all sales in the country. Designers and suppliers from across the state are also involved in this year’s show - MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press lists them all here.

Industry analyst Mike Dunlap has been going to NeoCon for 34 years. He sees new technologies like smart phones and tablets creeping even further into what would traditionally be considered furniture.

“All of the major manufactures now are beginning to change their thinking to putting technology into the furniture as opposed to putting it on it,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap says Haworth is getting lots of attention for its new product called Bluescape, which he calls “an Ipad on steroids.”

The interactive touch screen takes up a whole wall and allows multiple people to access information or work on a project at the same time from different places. Bloomberg Business said this in a recent review:

The bottom line: An office-furniture maker and a projector company have developed a giant futuristic digital whiteboard. Costs may be prohibitive.

Meanwhile, Steelcase, the top seller in the office furniture industry, has a new line of office chairs that Dunlap says are “probably one of the most important seating products that Steelcase has ever introduced.” Steelcase designed the Gesture chair to fit nine different seating positions based around technologies like smartphones and tablets.