Observations from the last day of K/BIS
A mudroom in one of the Design Idea Center's vignettes.
What typically happens on the last day of most trade shows
is that attendance is generally lower. This is good for us media types, as we
can then talk to people who otherwise were too busy the previous days with
customers or potential customers. Or walk through areas that were too crowded
during the early part of the show.
Walking through the NKBA Design Idea
Center is always fun. NKBA has partnered up with Meredith Corp.’s five
bath/kitchen/home consumer mags for the past few years to give K/BIS attendees
different looks for different lifestyles, as illustrated by the magazines’
This year the vignettes were: 1) Hostess
Extraordinaire, which included a butler’s pantry and mudroom to accommodate a
family with teenagers; 2) Organizer-In-Chief, which included a lot in
interesting storage space; 3) Savvy Young Professional; which was a bathroom
with a shared bath in the middle, and his/hers bathrooms at each end; 4) Future
Thinker, which included a lot of universal design/aging-in-place features; and
5) Mother Starting Out, which a included hardwearing surfaces and flexible
living spaces for a growing family.
Germs United Against Bemis.
One of the best PR campaigns I’ve seen in a long time came
from Bemis - its Germs United Against Bemis campaign had life-sized “germs”
picketing the Bemis booth and handing out literature bemoaning the fact that
Bemis toilet seats are easier to clean and declaring war on the company was
funny. I tried to go by the booth each day to watch the germs’ antics - and get
a good laugh!
Other observations on the final day of
A Korean company, Cebien, had
a shower system complete with music. You insert a music card - download from
your MP3 player or home computer - and the music is played from the speaker at
the top of the shower panel. LED lights around the showerhead can change
colors. The company also had decorative shower panels.
Aquatic introduced its
HotSoak tub with a 1/15 horsepower pump and a built-in heater to keep the water
at the bather’s preferred water temp, eliminating the need to keep adding hot
water to the tub.
I saw quite a few manufacturers introducing
walk-in tubs and other ADA-compliant fixtures and accessories. With the boomers
getting older and starting to retire, manufacturers need to create products
that allow these homeowners to stay in their homes as long as possible -
aging-in-place products - but also are decorative as well as functional, not
Shower system with digital music system by Cebien.
The demise of whirlpool tubs
has been greatly exaggerated. Every year sees new models, but the air baths may
have a lot to do with the resurrection of this product category.
Vessel sinks seem to be
popular on the show floor, but I don’t actually know anyone who has one in
their home. I did use one in Germany - it does take some getting used to, but
they have a distinctive look to them that is hard to resist. Some of them
almost look like pieces of art…
A lot of emphasis on “green” - water
conservation, saving energy, sustainable materials. As we’ve noted in the pages
of Plumbing & Mechanical and our sister publications,
the green movement is no longer the domain of the “granola crowd,” the “treehuggers.”
It is now part of the mainstream consumer’s lifestyle, and the plumbing and
heating industry is putting a lot of effort into developing new technologies
and using new materials to make their products better for us, and better for
Stone lav and faucet facade from Shirestone.
It hasn’t been easy, and many of these
efforts were brought on by state and federal legislation. But today’s consumers
have a myriad of water-conserving and energy-saving products for their plumbing
and heating needs to choose from - products that were all over the three halls
of this year’s K/BIS.
Well, that’s it for this year. Maybe
I’ll see you at next year’s show - May 1-3, Atlanta.