NeoCon, the world's largest trade show and conference dedicated to the commercial design industry, wrapped up in Chicago this week. Prior to the start of the show, its management tapped the NeoCon advisory committee of top commercial designers to share insights on what's hot right now and what lies ahead across key industry sectors.

Julia Monk, senior vice president and director of hospitality design at HOK's Shanghai office, noted how Millennials are driving trends in hospitality design, which has implications for restaurant design and development, as well.

"Most hotels have been catering to the baby boomer generation over the years. However, they now understand that the priorities and lifestyles of the Millennials are different," Monk said. "Their info is streaming live; their world is faster. Millennials have such an impact on the market that chains are now creating branded hotels especially geared toward this generation. These spaces call for interactive, open floor plans with multiple areas to congregate, as well as special niche spaces like libraries and small caf├ęs. When it comes to products for these environments, designers are selecting pieces that are well-made, flexible and sustainable. These attributes suit the tastes of this younger group, which is accustomed to high-quality, personalization and eco-consciousness."

"Authenticity is fast becoming another overarching trend for all demographics," added Monk. "Consistency in appearance and experience used to be the most important quality for hotel chains to convey. The idea was that wherever you went, a name brand looked and felt the same so guests could take comfort in the familiar. These days, with technology and the Internet giving us access to an array of information, imagery and virtual experiences, travelers want to authentically experience the culture of the locale in which they are staying. Firms have responded to this desire by focusing on brand and property distinction while creating more unique experiences and products that tap into local flavors."