Five Trends to Watch at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS)

By Lori Dolnick

The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, NV was a leaner exhibition – a reflection of the economy and home building sales no doubt. But traffic and designer interest was brisk for the exhibitors present – hopefully a positive sign for the future. KBIS is one of my favorite shows. Homeowners really invest in their kitchens and KBIS is the place to see what’s new, what’s trending and where the kitchen of the future is going. Here are some of the trends I saw and hot new products coming out this year.

1.    Transitional or New Traditional
Transitional or New Traditional is here to stay – a real style in its own right. From TOTO’s new Vivian faucet

to Hardware Resources’ Lyn Design Bath Vanities in Chocolate – what’s old is new again.

Today’s Traditional offers cleaner lines, less ornamentation and a more updated, sophisticated feel.

2.    Personal Style
We’re not designing for resale value. We’re designing for ourselves – for the long haul.

Top Knobs launched their unique new Passport Collection at KBIS – inspired by global landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Victoria Falls, Sydney Opera House, Tower Bridge and the Great Wall of China. What could be more personal than decorating with a souvenir from somewhere special? It’s what we all do when we travel, but now you can get a free sample shipped to your home without going anywhere at all. Design meets destination.

Another example… someone at the show told me to visit the Scotsman Ice Systems booth because they love to chew ice. You can’t get more personal than that! Me – I like the big cubes in my water. But if someone needs them small and chewy – this would be the system for them. Personal taste is a trend that is hot right now.

3.    Personal Luxury

If KBIS is any indicator – toilets are the next hot new must-have gadget. INAX’s latest offering, for example, plays music, lights your way at night, heats the seat, offers a personal cleansing massage plus automatically opens and closes. Plasmacluster technology cleans the air with antibacterial ions. Never mind its advanced flushing technology, green features and sophisticated design. So when I was asked would I pay $4,800 for a luxury spa toilet, my answer was simple, “it shuts the seat?” Worth the price of admission for me!

My kids did ask if it knows to open for a boy or a girl. The INAX representative told me it opens the lid for girls. Sorry fellas, you’ll have to lift the seat on your own.

4.    Design Matters

From Michael Graves’ teapots to Poggenpohl’s Porsche kitchen, branded design partnerships are not new. Design and Designers matter to homeowners. And the elements do not have to be expensive to offer high performance or design. Dacor’s new Distinctive 36” cooktop was created in partnership with BMW Group Designworks USA and is a perfect example of an accessibly priced appliance that has name plate designer status attached.

5.    Green as a Greens Fee

OK, I’m a golfer. To me a “greens fee” means something you pay just to play. And in today’s marketplace, you need to be green to play. While it’s still not high on the consumer’s punch list, designers, architects and manufacturers recognize that they must be environmentally friendly. Products like LED lighting from Stone Lighting and

Samsung’s Radianz Quartz with recycled content, demonstrate that the building community has embraced green as a long-term necessity that won’t go away like gas rationing in the 70’s. Let’s applaud the design community for creatively leading us to be environmentally responsible instead of waiting for us to ask.

Lori Dolnick is a regular contributor to ::Surroundings::

See all Lori’s posts here.

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xoxo Linda