It was another good year for Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas. The co-location of the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and International Builders’ Show has given both expos a much-needed attendance, exhibitor and energy boost (see related story, Page xx). There were also opportunities to visit the International Window Coverings Expo in an adjacent exhibit hall and the Las Vegas Market and International Surface Event off-site at no additional charge.
That benefits the design community by having access to products they might not otherwise see and having more to choose from on the KBIS side, as well. It’s hard to track trends and find the best offerings when a significant portion of the industry stays away, as had been the case in past, leaner years.
The popularity of the combined shows and the range and quality of products on display suggest a recovering economy, but at the same time, this was less a show about revolution than evolution. There were few game changers, but some nice offerings in continuing trends like healthy living, digital integration, aging in place and smart design.
Style-wise, the halls were bursting with vibrant hues and luxe retro looks. Cabinetry got high gloss, jewel-tone doors. Tiles got colorful Moorish-inspired patterns. Faucets got golden bronze and coppery finishes. Fixtures took on subtle art deco lines. Countertops in engineered stone, porcelain and blends evoked marble and other natural stones with increasing sophistication and book-match capabilities. There was a definite return to classic and contemporary luxury throughout the show.
Americans have always held that cleanliness is next to Godliness, and manufacturers have taken the message seriously. You can now find touch-free toilet flushing from more than one brand. In addition to Kohler’s 2014 introduction, Geberit and Delta were showcasing their technologies at the show.
Hafele showed off a foot-operated Euro Cargo auto opener so users don’t have to touch the handle on their trash cabinet either.
Healthy living has also shown up in improved refrigerator technology that keeps produce fresher longer with special crisper drawers, and a new under-counter appliance that lets users grow their own herbs and micro-greens right in their kitchen. This will especially appeal to a growing upscale crowd of locavores, vegetarians and vegans. The Urban Cultivator from Canada was a rare game changer at the show, and a worthwhile trek to its KBIS South Hall booth space.
Aging in Place
It was nice to see some new additions to the aging-in-place sector. Both Moen and TOTO were featuring handsome new designer-friendly grab bars, and Kohler’s new Choreograph shower sets include the option of a fold-down bench. Broan’s Sensaire Wall Control will turn any of their NuTone fans into humidity-sensing models, ideal for anyone with memory issues.
Wellness Mats’ anti-fatigue floor mats are ideal for aging bones. With new sizes, shapes and designs, they are now offering far more attractive options for designers to specify. (In a perfect world, the entire show floor would be covered in Wellness Mats.)
As Chris Cullen of Jenn-Air, one of the panelists on the Virginia Tech FutureHaus Kitchen presentation noted, “Connectivity is inevitable. All the manufacturers are working feverishly on it.” You could see that on the show floor, as well as in the educational sessions.
Dacor added voice commands to its IQ ovens and ranges (so now Siri can help your clients cook dinner). GE’s Monogram line expanded its digital integration offerings with its Sous Vide device that communicates with the induction cooktop and phone to bring restaurant technology home.
GE Profile also expanded its connected offerings with water heater, refrigerator, laundry pair and dishwasher that communicate status and issues with the consumer’s phone, available in February, April, May and late 2015, respectively.
Broan-NuTone, best known among kitchen and bath designers for ventilation, has developed a Smart Home Control System that’s launching 2Q2015. Among its other virtues, Smart Home answers the vexing question, ‘Did I leave the garage door open?’ then lets you close it from your phone if you did. The brand also officially released its Bluetooth-streaming vent fan, shown in prototype at an earlier show.
Overall, even without the aid of cell phones and tablets, kitchen and bath products keep getting smarter. Here are some more examples from both sides of Design & Construction Week:
- Delta’s new Flush IQ technology-equipped toilet was one of the other DCW game changers. In addition to letting users flush it without touching a lever, it will tell them if there’s a leak and prevent an overflow.
- Rev-a-Shelf came up with two different base cabinet organizers for Keurig K Cups, and a pull-down wall cabinet insert for storing pet products or vitamins, medicines and first aid products. (Wood-Mode also showcased a clever pet products storage center.)
- Hafele debuted its new 21C Storage System, which lets users customize wall storage with shelves, closed cabinetry and an innovative mounting system that offers tremendous flexibility for kitchens, baths, home offices and other spaces. Another smart offering from this European innovator was its LeMans Highboard, a set of four swing-outs for tall blind-corner cabinets.
- Body sprays from Brizo and Toto adjust to different angles, so that a petite and tall bather can each have personalized showering experiences. They use less water than previous carwash-style showers, too, thanks to air and motion-based conservation technologies.
- Accessorized sinks for smarter clean-up and prep centers were hot this year, too. Rohl, Kohler and Moen were all showing off their latest offerings.
- Blum is working on a mechanical version of its smart Servo-Drive system. The new Tip-on Blumotion technology was on the show floor, but won’t hit the market until 2016.
- In addition to its IQ series of connected ranges and ovens, Dacor officially launched its custom appliance color program. So, if you specify glossy jewel-toned cabinetry, you can get a perfectly matched glossy jewel-toned range or oven to pair with it. The company also showed off a built-in, panel-ready 48-inch fridge-freezer column combo.
- GEOS added to its collection of eco-friendly, stain-resistant recycled glass countertops that never need sealing.
- Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet showcased a built-in pizza oven for those who want a higher-end option.
- GE introduced a refrigerator that dispenses coffee from Keurig K cups, as well as other hot and cold beverages with filtered water.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is an independent designer in San Diego, the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work (Taunton Press), and a blogger, design journalist, seminar developer and industry consultant.
File Name: Moorish Tile – Walker Zanger
Caption: Tiles inspired by cement and Moorish designs dominated the tile landscape.
Photo Credit: Walker Zanger
File Name: Bookmatch Top – Dekton
Caption: Engineered tops are getting more sophisticated.
Photo Credit: Dekton by Cosentino
File Name: Hands-free Toilet – Delta
Caption: Hands-free toilet flushing is a burgeoning category.
Photo Credit: Delta Faucet Company
File Name: Urban Cultivator – UC
Caption: Whole Foods clientele will love this greens-growing game changer.
Photo Credit: Urban Cultivator
File Name: Designer Grab Bars – Toto
Caption: The aging-in-place segment continues to inspire stylish designs.
Photo Credit: TOTO
File Name: Keurig Fridge
Caption: GE’s newest refrigerator delivers Keurig coffee and other hot filtered beverages.
Photo Credit: GE Appliances
File Name: LeMans Highboard- Hafele
Caption: Hafele introduces a smart new accessory for tall blind corner cabinets.
Photo Credit: Hafele America Co.
File Name Kallista_PerSeDecorative_24K finish withGold Flake Knob_install.jpg
Caption: Luxe faucet and fixture looks were definitely on trend
Photo Credit: Kallista
File Name: C21 Storage System- Hafele
Caption: Hafele’s innovative rail system creates flexible storage designs.
Photo Credit: Hafele America Co.