Honoring our Industry’s Innovators

by Autumn McGarr

Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” While this is true in every profession, it has particular resonance in the kitchen and bath design industry, where change is the only constant and designers must forever be forging new paths to address the ever-evolving needs of their clients amidst new products and technology, new marketing avenues, new legislation impacting everything from energy and water usage to tariffs, and new consumer mindsets.

On top of that, industry professionals must wrestle with labor shortages, internet competition, new technology concepts like smart homes and virtual and augmented reality and consumer misconceptions due to TV shows and websites that unrealistically represent the design and remodeling process.

There’s no doubt about it: Being a design professional is hard work. Business strategies that worked yesterday may no longer work tomorrow, and design trends are always in flux, as travel and global influences continue to reshape tastes and design desires, and technology creates new possibilities that fundamentally transform how people cook, eat and live.

Yet despite the often-challenging nature of the business, the kitchen and bath industry continues to grow and prosper, led by dealers and designers who not only rise to the challenge, but who thrive on re-inventing the art, science and business of design. These extraordinary professionals aren’t just keeping up, they’re forging ahead, inspiring clients and colleagues and raising the bar for the industry as a whole.

This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News is proud to honor 50 of these unique individuals who are true Innovators in our industry in every sense of the word (see related coverage).

They come from all over the U.S. and Canada, with specialties ranging from marketing to mentoring, education to entrepreneurial expertise, technology and design to business management and blogging, and everything in between. Many are active in industry associations, and a number make time to give back to their communities, recognizing the holistic nature of the industry and the need to stay connected.

All have overcome challenges, yet they have managed to stay focused on their journey, working to improve not just their skills, but the lives of the people they touch, and the industry as a whole.

It’s no surprise that in the design industry, there are plenty of accolades for great design. Beautiful and functional spaces are at the heart of what we do, and a well-designed kitchen or bath provides tangible benefits that go far beyond merely driving profits to the firm that designs and sells these projects. Great design has intrinsic value; the spaces we live in affect how we see the world, and can enhance our outlook, health, happiness and overall well being.

But there is no great design without great designers, and there are no great designers without an industry that supports them. For that reason, the people who make these spaces happen must do far more than just tap into their creative talents for space planning, product placement, color and material choices. Rather, they must lead the industry forward, re-imagining and re-inventing as they go, and inspiring all of those who come in contact with them, as well as generations of future design professionals to come.

This is what leadership is all about, and it’s why KBDN is so pleased and excited to recognize and honor our 50 Top Innovators for 2019. For those who continue to serve the industry and lead us all forward, we offer our sincerest thanks and appreciation.

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