This week we explored the annual Kitchen and Bath show (and Builders Show) in Las Vegas. It must be noted that simultaneously running on the strip was the Gun Show and the ever popular Porn Convention, all in full regalia – who knew? We did our utmost to stay focused on the mission at hand in the desert (what a country, only in Vegas).
The wanderlust of the KBIS show is one of pure design adventure. Always a mixture of meeting convivial colleagues, seeing aspirational new products, and catching up with friends and partners. We always feel it is important to share what we discovered on these journeys with our team and now we are revealing our findings to you as well.
We don’t necessarily call these trends, as that indicates something transient and of the moment. We like to think of them as our markers on where we see the Kitchen and Bath industry heading, all under the auspices of focusing on positive attributes and solutions. We hope you all enjoy our KBIS “Top Ten”.
Number 10: And In This Corner!
Storage solutions for what we lovingly call the “squinch” (the pursuit of utilizing every square inch) are everywhere at KBIS. MasterBrand, the parent company of various lines of well-considered wood cabinetry and storage solutions had plenty on display. We particularly liked the Embellishments mirror by Decora with slide-to-the-side storage that gives you access without having to break eye contact with your own reflection.
There was no shortage of solutions for that pesky kitchen corner cabinet. Our personal favorite was this little number, the Flex Corner from Vauth Sagel. You pull one shelving unit out, slide it down, and have an entire other shelving unit that also pulls out. It scored very high for us on the squinch and the ability to come to the user versus having to squat, crawl and go to it.
Number 9: Techanisms
Technology continues to find its way into everything, and we saw a lot of mechanisms receiving technology love. had a great booth. A maker of some of the finest hardware one can find, Hafele did a tremendous job demonstrating how you could use their products in your life now. One of our favorites was the remote operated closet bar that could be lowered down for easier reach. Nice was displaying their smart blinds. You can operate them from your phone or tablet of course. We love that no detail was too small, take a look at the end detail…NICE!
Number 8: Innovation Migration
When a good idea is seen on one object, it isn’t long before you see it applied to others. In this case, the proliferation of French doors on refrigerators. Well now there are wall ovens with French doors, and we liked them. A lot! If it sounds intriguing to you, you already have some options. Both GE and Viking introduced this idea at the show. Which is your favorite?
Number 7: The Past Is Present In The Future
Some of you may remember American Standard 3D printing some faucets in the last year. They wanted to explore forms that could never be achieved through traditional casting processes. Well they had their functioning designs on display in their DXV booth for all to see and touch. They were very cool to see in person. The unexpected details for most were that despite the ability to print these in as little as 25 hours, they take a tremendous amount of post-processing in order to polish the surfaces to a respectable finish. And we all know that labor adds cost. How much cost? You can pick one of these up for a mere $20,000. Act fast, there is already a waiting list!
Number 6: FutureHaus by Virginia Tech
Another highlight for us was a booth by students from Virginia Tech. They were at the show last year with a kitchen of the future. This year they had a bathroom of the future on display. This fully functional space showed tremendous thought and foresight. Ideas we have often toyed around with in our own office were here before us, tangible and operational! Scales built into the floor that display info on the mirror are easier to read, reduce clutter, and eliminate tripping hazards. Adjustable height counters are great for adults with disabilities, and great for children who often perch precariously on stools. A great safety feature with a serious cool factor. The other aspect of this project is the modularity of it all. These rooms are built as pods and can be constructed offsite in a controlled environment. When you are building or renovating, the pods are delivered to your home and installed in a fraction of the time one would experience with traditional construction.
Number 5: Accessibility
Our company has a mission to fuse safety and beauty in the home and other spaces, so we were of course on the lookout for any advancements in this space. We wish there was more to report here. It was great to run into our friends at the Invisia booth. If you are not familiar with their products, they are the originators of adding weight bearing grips to common bathroom fixtures in a way that is secure and attractive. We have specified their products for clients, like this project at Yale New Haven Hospital.
Our happiness was bountiful by the increase in the number of linear drains being shown and trumpeted for their ability to create barrier-free shower entries. Since Michael Graves became paralyzed in 2003, the home renovation he talked about most was his linear drain. This led to our own line of drains being made by QuickDrain, who were present at the show. If you are in the business of bathroom design, construction, or renovation we urge you to consider these drains for your next project. They look great, reduce the complexity of tiling the shower floor, and eliminate trip hazards. It’s a win-win.
Number 4: Oh So Somixticated
There was a time when doing a great design meant choosing a great color, or a great texture, or a great pattern. Don’t be heavy handed we would say, keep it simple. Well that was then. In all directions at the show we spotted beautiful, sophisticated mixtures of color and texture and patterns. Kudos to Walker Zanger, Pera Tile, Eleganza Studio and Island Stone. There was no shortage of great combinations.
Number 3: Friendly Faux’s
There is a time and a place for laminates, and they were not shy in the least at KBIS. Lab Designs revealed brilliant, fresh metallic finishes that incorporated subtle and effective textures that played wonderfully well with the light. They were also pushing the realism of faux woods, adding subtle texture, as well as beautifully sophisticated colors and finishes to the wood. The big bonus here, when price is a hurdle, these can get you the look, feel and durability one wants at a fraction of the price, with no sacrifice of style. There were familiar faces having fun with laminates. Formica and Jonathan Adler released a playful line of laminates that can bring his signature Happy Chic style to your next project. Check them out. Nice work Jonathan!
Number 2: Wood U Could U
We were smitten with Stikwood and their cleverly unique line of adhesive-backed real-wood panels. We had a great discussion with Jerry McCall, the founder, and his passion for wood and the work he does was palpable. As he talked to us, he spoke of the beauty, warmth, and infinite variation one gets with real wood. We as humans are drawn to this material, probably because it has been one of the most important materials in our development as a species; fire, dwellings, transportation, tools. Stikwood is elevating this material even further with the application of patterns and stains on top of it. While this sophisticated material is warming the headquarters of tech giants like Facebook and Google, it is simple enough for any DIY’er to cut, peel, and stick their way to a beautifully crafted statement. Seriously, check these guys out, we have nothing but love for them.
Number 1: Objects of Desire
The Kitchen and Bath show is still all about design and desire. We saw no shortage of beautiful objects that left us wishing we had the time and money to renovate. We at MGA&D have a certain aesthetic proclivity, so the objects attracting us are often ones we might see come out of our own studio. The proliferation of distinctive Bathroom hardware really stood out to us, and here are our top favorites.
Kohler had a new shower head called Exhale. The nature inspired texture on the shower head was subtle and sophisticated. Molded out of silicone, the head was easy to grip and twist to change settings. There was an appreciation for the level of detail and thought going into ideas like “larger water droplets retain heat longer”, as well as the silk setting which would feel amazing on a sunburned back. The form of the handle was simple, clean and well considered with its transitioning elliptical cross section. Kudos Kohler!
Moen showed up to the party with one of our favorite collections. We kept glancing at it and then to each other saying “this is good, this is good, this is Moen?”! It is the Rizon|Method collection. It is a soft-modern collection of forms that is at the same time elegant, optimally shaped, yet substantial. The single lever faucet and toilet paper holder were particular highlights for us. Go figure.
The last mention we want to make is Kardea and their collection of knobs and handles by Simone Viola. This line of forms drew us in from afar by the highly curatorial manner in which the objects were displayed. One can’t resist reaching out and touching these affable, often natural looking forms. Simply compelling design.
If you were at the show, let us know what would make your own top 10 list. With so much to see, it is hard to narrow it down, knowing that we must have missed something. Our overall excitement and enrichment prevails in viewing where the industry is headed.
In the words of poet and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to all that participated in KBIS this year, “the reward of a thing well done is having done it.” This we know.