04 May 2011

KBIS 2011 - Top Trends

I just came back from the latest Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held in Las Vegas last week. It was the smallest I've seen it since I started attending, both in terms of attendees and exhibitors. More significantly, fewer brands brought game changers to the show.

Nonetheless, there were some interesting trends to share, and that's what this first of multiple KBIS posts will cover.

My dear friend, colleague and Gold Notes architectural contributor Dean Larkin, AIA, accompanied me to the show again this year. As an LA-based architect of luxury residences and commercial projects, Dean is a great trend setter/taste maker to have along. Some of the elements shared in this post and upcoming KBIS entries were pointed out by his expert eyes.


I spotted some really nifty sliding mechanisms throughout the show, many contributing to the un-kitchen look that's growing in popularity. Hafele was showing mechanisms to slide countertops open on islands, as they did at LivingKitchen in Germany a few months back. This makes it possible to hide a sink, storage or TV out of sight when they're not in use.

NanaWall, famous for its accordion-style patio sliders, introduced a window-door combination that slides open to remove all barriers between indoor kitchen and outdoor living spaces.

Innovative Products showed off the S-Box system they're distributing in the US. It slides up from below a countertop, bringing a knife holder, iPod dock, electrical charging station, mini TV screen, key or spice holder into use when needed, and out of sight when not. Right now, they're showing it only in stainless steel, but it will be available as an integrated product later this year.

Hardware manufacturer Salice had several terrific sliders to share. One automated doors to slide open like the passenger doors on a mini van. A light touch opens a pantry, entertainment cabinet or other large storage space, and closes it again. The system is available with automation or manual opening mechanisms. Both include soft close operation.

The final element that illustrated the slider trend was Brizo's new Solna faucet. Its pull-down nozzle slides completely out of view, into its gracefully-curved neck, when not in use. Sleek!


Another trend that's not new, but showing up in more places, is tech-oriented personalization. You can now get a shower system that lets users pre-set features before they step in at a cost in the $1K range. Kohler introduced this capability in their affordable DTV Prompt system.

They also debuted a high-tech, high-line toilet called the Numi that does everything short of zipping your fly. You can choose your personal wash settings, accompanying music from your iPod, and about a dozen other features.

Another iStylish entry from Kohler brand Robern was the customizable medicine cabinet. Need refrigeration for your medicines or water? Build it in. Need a charger? Build it in, too? Need to watch TV while you brush and floss? You can build that in, too.

Technology for personalization was widespread at the show, and not just for the kitchen and bath. Lutron's technology now lets you automate most of your home from your iPad.

My favorite techno entry was by Hettich, which was previewing the kitchen of tomorrow at their booth. More on this in a KBIS post to come.

Warm and lustrous

On the decorative end, I saw a trend toward more decorative styles than I've seen at recent shows. Finishes got warmer and darker. Hardware and even faucets showed jewelry-caliber style. Cabinetry warmed up a bit - walnut has especially grown in popularity.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Native Trail's entry into the cabinetry sector. I've always loved their copper sinks. This year, they were showing off vanities and mirrors made from wine barrels... Not for everyone, but nifty for someone wanting a warm, casual old world look.

Rohl and Brizo showed off beautiful new faucet styles. Rohl's featured crystal-inspired knobs. Brizo's brought a matte, cocoa finish to the show, pairing it with polished nickel for a super-rich stylish look.

Everywhere I turned, decorative faucets and hardware were showing off more detailed, decorative, bejeweled embellishments - like the Top Knobs Passport Collection shown below - a noted, welcome departure from the more modern looks that have dominated recent shows.

Check back next week for more KBIS 2011 coverage.

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