Despite the soft economy, 2008 NeoCon exhibitors found plenty to be optimistic about. While attendance was slightly down, Chicago's Merchandise Mart was buzzing with activity, and several manufacturers invested in new showrooms and launched new product lines. Flexible design and functional components that can move across a business or institution was a key theme this year. Creating a flexible system that can adapt to the ever-changing business landscape, Herman Miller added four auxiliary products to its Geiger International Caucus table line. As the US embraces open work spaces, European offices are taking the idea a step further with benching. Benching, a decade-old concept, is based on the idea of people working at big benches and tables to maximize light, says David Bright, VP communications for Knoll. As green processes and products become more mainstream, customers are expecting sustainable options when purchasing furniture and components. So far the economy is holding up fairly well, but manufacturers are cautious about the future.