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Healthcare jurors share insights on the Best of NeoCon Awards

by Eileen McMorrow

Tailor HD from Spec Furniture took the
Silver Award for Patient Seating.

For manufacturers of healthcare contract furniture, furnishings, flooring and textiles, winning a Best of NeoCon Award can catapult awareness of the product among healthcare specifiers. For 30 years, I have organized teams of facilities managers, interior designers, architects and other workplace and healthcare planning professionals to judge products in the NeoCon showrooms and exhibit spaces at The Mart in Chicago.

Presented by Contract magazine and co-sponsored by NeoCon/The Mart and The McMorrow Reports, the competition receives upwards of 350 entries per year. Eighty-three awards were distributed in the Best of NeoCon 2019 competition: Eight Innovation Awards, six Editors’ Choice Awards, and a Best of Competition Award were included among the honors in the 30th annual competition.

All the healthcare jurors are Certified Healthcare Interior Designers with the exception of one who is preparing for the exam now:

Lilliana Alvarado IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP, EDAC, CHID, Design Principal/Owner, UPHEALING, Bedford, New Hampshire; Kathleen Benoit NCIDQ, LEED BD+C, AAHID, Project Manager, Architects Alaska, Wasilla, Alaska; Janet Kobylka NCIDQ, LEED AP, EDAC, RID, AAHID, CHID, Senior Interior Designer & Transition Planner, Workplace Solutions, Dallas; Libby Laguta NCIDQ, EDAC, RID, CHID, Interior Designer, L2D, Charleston, South Carolina; Lori McGilberry NCIDQ, EDAC, RID, AAHID, Managing Principal,Kilter LLC, Arlington, Texas; Karen Muraoka IIDA, NCIDQ, AAHID, Principal, Karen Muraoka Interior Design LLC, Honolulu; and Linnea Rehnke NCIDQ, LEED Green Associate, Manager, Capital Projects, Advocate Aurora Health, Downers Grove, Illinois.

The jurors are vetted by answering questions about their tenure in the industry, current title and employer, details about the three largest design projects, including square footage, for which they specified products in the past year, classification of the projects by corporate/commercial, healthcare, education, hospitality, or institutional. They also indicate size and scope of three current projects for which they will specify product at the upcoming NeoCon. If they cannot answer those questions, then the competition knows they are not suited to judge products. 

Weeks before they arrive in Chicago, they access the Best of NeoCon digital entry platform to preview entries with answers to questions about the products and images. Each team of jurors reviews between four and seven product categories for about 50 products total. This allows them to see entries in specific and disparate categories and appreciate the nuances between products in a category. They record observations and questions they can ask when they arrive in the showroom for the live presentations by product designers, marketing executives and company owners who discuss details of the product and answer jurors’ questions.

Many manufacturers have shared their delight in winning the gold, silver or innovation awards, but they also find gratification in meeting the jury and having the opportunity to share deep details about the products, receive questions and hear jurors’ impressions or concerns. If a product scores high, its jury team tends to share it with all the jurors. Further, the top six performing products are presented and reviewed by all 40+ jury members to arrive at the Best of Competition, which this year went to OFS for Obeya.

Kwalu Prizzi Lounge

Kwalu for Prizzi Lounge, Gold Award for Healthcare Guest & Lounge Seating: “Love this chair! Kwalu has always gotten an A+ in performance and it is nice to see them step it up with their design as well. Kwalu has come up several notches in the past few years, combining credible science with contemporary design: Well done and worthy! Keep going!

Terrific new frame composition material — using steel wool to buff out
Sharpie marker is fabulous! The fact that it looks like a wood frame but is a
more durable material certainly answers a need in healthcare environments! The Prizzi chair is elegant and would work well in most locations.

I love the look of Prizzi Lounge. It has a great and comfortable sit. The rounded back gives a nod to residential without looking too trendy. The finish on the frames is something I’m excited to share with my clients. Well done!
Beautiful shape and style with a unique construction at a great price point.”

The Coordination Collection from Teknoflor

Teknoflor’s Coordination Collection, Gold Award, Healthcare Flooring: “Nice visual and color range. Like the smaller particulate and that it’s chlorine-free! With the ability to coordinate the same patterns and color ways in different areas and using different scale products—LVT and sheet—true continuity can be achieved.

Fantastic concept, beautiful patterns and color! This collection coordinates the sheet vinyl flooring with the planks and tiles, as well as offers heterogeneous vinyl, homogeneous vinyl and a non-vinyl line. It is truly all-encompassing.”

Spec Furniture’s Tailor HD, (shown at top), Silver Award for Healthcare Patient Seating: “Tailor HD hits the right market need. Well done. The styling introduces more of a residential look that is helpful in comforting patients and family members.

Tailor HD provides a nicer looking option for behavioral health, which is very difficult to come by. We like the less clinical look and feel of these pieces. Looking forward to seeing the solution for the edges that currently provide hiding places. The overall design is a huge step for behavioral health furniture. My only concern is the clean out; I would like to see a solid seat/back cushion.”

True Hues from Mohawk Group

Mohawk Group, True Hues wins Silver Award in Healthcare Flooring: “Wonderful new take on rubber flooring. Beautiful color palette. Matte finish is very nice. The mold-release aspect is my favorite part. Fantastic design, color story and technical details. Excellent! “