COVID-19 may remain in the news but it did not stop people from attending the 2023 KBIS/IDS show in Las Vegas. In fact, early estimates set the attendance in excess of 100,000 enthusiasts. Now that’s a show!
So, what did thousands of enthusiastic kitchen and bath professionals learn while in Las Vegas?
#1: THE KITCHEN SINK IS DEAD — LONG LIVE THE KITCHEN WORKSTATION
The kitchen sink of the 1950s has matured into the 21st century’s kitchen sink workstation. Standard sizes range from 30” up to 84” and longer if your client really wants to make an over-the-top design statement.
I spoke with the owner of a kitchen design only studio, and of the 90 kitchen designs they created in 2022, 80% had “elaborate” kitchen workstations. These new and continually expanding sink systems are truly amazing and a great anchor item for today's kitchen design.
These “sinks” are available in fireclay, cast iron and stainless steel, and are offered for inside and outside applications. Plus each brand’s individual sink systems are offered with a wide range of complimentary tools. From cutting boards to relish trays and knife racks, today’s kitchen sink designers have created a complete and interactive product systems that offer the home chef and entertainer just about everything they need to create a special event.
This is a big and ongoing change in kitchen design and will continue to work into all phases of kitchen design and style genres.
Showroom steps: Work with your most profitable kitchen sink line and create the ultimate, or as a GM salesperson would say, loaded, kitchen workstation display you possibly can. Set this display away from your displays of kitchen sinks. This is a sales destination point for your sales team to present everything these new workstations can do. If possible, include a large video screen to show the sink in action or if the company does not have videos a slideshow of pictures will help the customer see the system in action.
#2: LET’S ALL GET KNURLED — DIAMOND STYLE IF YOU PLEASE
I thought 2018 was the year of the knurl, but at 2023 KBIS, the diamond knurl was carved into more products and in more ways than I ever dreamt. From thin accents on cross handles and kitchen sprays to 36” appliance pulls and as an option on almost every type of product series, old and new. We do love our knurls.
P.S. Coining is on the way…
Showroom steps: No two knurl rolls, cuts or etchings are the same. It is important that showrooms know and show brand knurl differentiation. Contact your key suppliers of faucetry, wall accessories and hardware and ask for their knurling sample. Place them in a simple felt lined wood box and present the samples to your clients. Key points to point out, light refraction, depth of the knurl cut and how it feels on when they grab it.
#3: TWO TONED MATTE BLACK, WHITE AND BRASS
From appliance doors to kitchen and bath faucets, the combination of matte black and satin brass was everywhere. I cannot stress it enough, that this two-tone color combination was presented in almost every booth at KBIS 2023, PERIOD. Amazing.
Showroom steps: Try to have a sample of your heavy movers in matte black and satin brass. It does not need to be an entire a faucet; a handle and escutcheon will allow your client to see the how the matte black finish sets up the texture and shine of the satin brass.
Trends you might have missed
SLEEPER #1: HAVE IT YOUR WAY
Even with the dominating presence of satin brass and matte black, forward thinking brands know that one look does not fit all, nor last forever. But playing on the two-tone look will gain attention and sales. These companies offered a Lego-like option to build your own finish combination. Their configurator allows a customer to select which parts of the product are to be in finish #1 and what parts are to be in finish #2. Some of the finish combinations brands and customers created were quite unique. The number of combinations is very large. As our computers become more powerful and supply become more local, this might emerge as major trend in the future.
Showroom steps: Identify your brands that are offering this creative option and create display vignette to both show your clients how this two-tone finish option works and, if possible, allows them to play with the components to create their own look, just like playing with Lego.
SLEEPER #2: GRAPHITE IS LEAVING THE PENCIL BEHIND
Quite a few companies were either introducing or promoting a graphite like finish. They may also be named gun metal, gun barrel or blue-black and are available in polished, satin and matte preparations. These rich finishes offer a black and grey hue while sending off bluish tones when hit with bright lights. This is not a new look but is well “colors” to compliment black and nickel finishes.
Showroom steps: Display products in Graphite finishes throughout your showrooms. Create a vignette presenting all of all of the applications available in graphite finishes, bath faucets, kitchen faucets, wall accessories, hardware and china. These finishes need not be the same. Here you can educate your clients on the availability of grit finished products and how its cold and textures vary by brand.
Finally, the biggest win. Lots and lots of people attended 2023 KBIS
Last year’s KBIS was downright depressing. Sure, business was good in 2022 but our industry’s premier show was poorly attended, and some vendors pulled out at the last moment. It was a graveyard. Then, 2023 KBIS killed that negative feeling. From 9 to 5, the aisles were packed and the small booths on the corners were busy. It was a great event for all involved. As I noted above, the preliminary numbers show that more than 100,000 people attend the KBIS-IDS show. KBIS 2023 was amazing and wonderful.
In closing, business is changing at a lighting pace and it is important that the showroom world has a national event that we call all attend. An event so large that it allows us to move outside of our own personal focus, beyond our teams and market preferences and reach outside our buying groups cultures. Experiencing brands, we do not carry, interacting with new people and getting out of our same-old, same-old allows to expand our vision of our markets and create a fresh view on all that we do.
Best of luck to you and your business in 2023, and hope to see you in Orlando in 2024.