GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Here’s a sign the furniture industry is doing better. It’s not just customers doing the shopping, but companies as well. In a recent high-profile deal, Herman Miller spent $156 million to buy the New York-based, family-owned Maharam Fabric Corp. for the Zeeland office manufacturer's growing consumer and specialty segments.

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Viable Plugged In

It is one of those products that when you see it, you wonder why someone hasn't come up with it before.

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Think Big NeoCon: Sparks

Sparkeology is a small division of library furniture maker The Worden Co. dedicated to pieces that enhance casual, collaborative spaces. The brand turns three this year and hopes that its name (and new furniture) cause a spark in the industry.

Sparkeology is focusing on power this year at NeoCon. The company is bringing power to casual fur- niture to make it easy for users to connect, charge up and keep working. Sparkeology is adding power to many of its products including the Sylvie chair, Manny ottoman and Stella table, to name a few.

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CHICAGO — Sparkeology, one of West Michigan's smallest and youngest furniture companies, credits NeoCon with helping to grow its profile.

"We're getting everyone aware of who we are," said Robin Hendrick Lane, vice president of marketing and sales. She debuted the company at NeoCon in 2010 before it formally opened.

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Designer creates workspace storage solution for ubiquitous laptop bag

With the ability to run a business from a backpack or laptop case, today’s knowledge workers have different workspace needs than previous generations of employees.

The dawn of powerful, portable computing meant that one device can take the place of the Rolodex, file cabinet and desk drawers. The laptop bag and its contents has become the primary instrument of the modern knowledge worker, but it doesn’t really have a good storage place in the office.

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It's in the Bag (ped)

Bagpeds can be used at home or commercial offices and in third spaces, including coffee shops, libraries, lobbies and airports.

So now you're a nomadic worker who lives out of a laptop bag. The bag contains your office — your computer, your files, your contacts. Sound familiar? Many workers live out of laptop bags, but have the same problem: Figuring out what to do with them when they get to work, wherever that might be.

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Redesigning the office pedestal for today's mobile workforce

Peter Drucker coined the term "knowledge worker" in the late 1950s to describe the transition to the technology and analytical-based skillset that the modern workplace would require.

Local inventor and industrial designer Scott Sikkema coined the term "el BagPed" as the name of his new product, describing a sleekly redesigned office pedestal for bags and other belongings targeted to today's knowledge and "mobile" workers.

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