Hightower wins NeoCon Best Showroom

Deep tones, rich textures, and trompe-l’œil welcome thousands of Chicago attendees

Contract furnishings provider, Hightower received multiple awards at NeoCon 2021, including IIDA’s ‘Best Small Showroom‘ (under 4,000 sf) and ‘Best of Competition‘ for its newly designed Chicago showroom. It is the second time Hightower has come away with these prestigious honors during commercial furniture’s largest annual US-based trade show.  IIDA,  the  International  Interior  Design Association’s Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA commented, “…an exceptional use of thought and creativity that humanized the way we think about design.”

A behind the scenes look at the award-winning showroom can be viewed on Hightower’s website here: https://hightoweraccess.com/

For their 2021 redesigned showroom, Hightower again partnered with Interior Designer Casey Keasler and her team at Casework, a Portland, OR design studio, transforming the 3,500 sf Chicago space giving visitors a provocative new way to interpret the Hightower brand, frequently associated since it’s 2003 founding for modern, Scandinavian contract furniture and accessories.

“I think we could all use a little optimism right now and I certainly leaned into that collaborating with Hightower for their 2021 showroom design,” shared Keasler. “Visitors will see dramatic touches like trompe l’oeil wallpaper, rich velvets, and wools in an unexpected partnership with botanicals. We embraced deep garnets, blush velvets, and soft beiges, contrasting them with details of brass, rich browns, and textured creams.”

Co-founder & CEO Natalie Hartkopf shared her thoughts about the Chicago redesign saying, “An introspective look at how we’ve spent the last two years reinforced what we’ve always believed at Hightower: the importance of creating places where people desire to be, to linger within, and feel it worth their time and effort to be there. Our inspiration for the new showroom focused on an expectation that workplaces, hotels, places of education, or any public space should give something back, leaving us feeling better at the end of the day than we were at the start.”

“We want to remind people of the energy, creativity, and curiosity that can only be experienced in shared environments—that feeling of excitement,” added Jessica Ahlering, Hightower’s Director of Marketing & Product. We’re taking back shared spaces where socialization and collaboration are optimized; recognizing where we’ve been but igniting optimism and challenging people to look at new ways of coming together.”

Hightower’s showroom design team member and company Design Director Shawn Sowers was on hand at NeoCon to guide visitors through the nearly 60 products on display and commented, “What we’re showing here is breadth and diversity in design voices; the brands in our portfolio coming together, speaking in a shared language. The experience we’ve created for NeoCon 2021 illustrates our offerings but more importantly, how those pieces can work together in compelling ways so that the furniture becomes secondary to the feeling of place. Simply put, it’s delight.”

Hightower also received a Metropolis Likes award for Adapt, a unique seating collection designed in Australia and manufactured at Hightower’s North Carolina facility. Metropolis Magazine honors commercial designs each year at NeoCon which “represent the height of innovation, creativity, utility, and sustainability.”


A few product highlights included in the 2021 space at Chicago’s theMART, #1110:

  • Designed in Australia, manufactured in North Carolina, Hightower Studio  Adapt,  Winner  of Metropolis Magazine’s Metropolis Likes: Adapt marks the first partnership of Hightower Studio and Melbourne’s Ross Gardam The aesthetic of Adapt is casually sophisticated, inspired by the open, genuine lifestyle of Australians. Adapt’s simplicity focuses on 5 key elements: frame, seat cushion, back+arm cushions, privacy panels, and tables. Adapt’s installation and setup require minimal onsite time and effort.
  • California-designed Tess Planters, also part of the Hightower Studio collection: Tess Planters create multiple configurations—high impact solo or nested in groups to create an entire composition for statement-making biophilic areas. Tess Planters ship flat, reducing the environmental impact of large shipping boxes and packing materials, are easy to assemble (tool-free!), and are light but New colors for Tess will be highlighted in Hightower’s 2021 NeoCon showroom.
  • Denmark’s FourLikes from Four Design®: An extensive range of modules that optimize space, FourLikes has the ability to activate underused Based on cubes, the pieces are styled to create curvy and organic shapes which can be integrated into larger arrangements of different seating options. Acoustic and visual privacy is improved with accessories available for the FourLikes system, making it an ideal seating solution for either focused work or collaboration.
  • Stockholm-based Form Us With Love design through a partnership with +Halle, Levels: Levels benches are available in three heights and three lengths which can be mixed and matched to create seating for a wide range of indoor shared spaces breaking the monotony that can come with open Levels can be specified as a single item–for spaces like retail store windows or small reception/waiting areas–or in large configurations for offices, lounges, universities, healthcare settings, or communal spaces like galleries and museums. Levels is manufactured by Hightower in North Carolina.

About Hightower:

Since 2003, the family-founded, female owned and operated company has developed a proprietary collection of domestically produced products, Hightower Studio, while also working with a wide network of global design partners including Four Design, +Halle, Ondarreta, and Swedese. Shared co-founder and CEO Natalie Hartkopf, “Our collections are simple yet thoughtful and, to me, that is Hightower.” Learn more at www.hightoweraccess.com. Hightower inspiration via Instagram or Pinterest @hightowergroup. Career opportunities and company news can be found on LinkedIn @hightower-group.