Description: Warning: Before delving into my individual takeaways from this year’s KBIS, I encourage you to list your unique, uninfluenced observations. This will provide a starting point from which we can explore and compare our perspectives on the show and similar gatherings.

After deciphering all my notes and situationally recalling over 200 images, I settled in front of my computer to write my reflections on KBIS 2024. Pausing for a moment, I came to the realization that amidst the elaborate staging, vivid colors, and glossy products, it was the impromptu conversations with fellow attendees that left the most lasting impression.

While I did have some fruitful planned meetings and took note of numerous captivating products and emerging trends, it was the spontaneous interactions that made my 2024 KBIS a special show. These unexpected exchanges not only stand out in my memory but also hold the potential for the most significant return on my investment.

I estimate that I had more than thirty impromptu conversations with people I had not conversed in a while and most of which with people I had never known. In one booth I had a conversation with an architect who is president of his local chapter and I will be speaking at their June gathering. In another, I was admiring a colorful, ribbed pedestal with a booth guide and discovered they were the president of that division. I learned quite a bit in that conversation.

These are just a glimpse of the insightful conversations I had with designers, architects, brand representatives, even family members and builders. Remember, KBIS partners with IBS, so the potential connections are vast.

Next year, when you’re navigating the whirlwind of booths and meetings, take a moment to look up and connect. You might encounter an old friend with valuable insights, a design professional offering a fresh perspective, or even a family member you wouldn't expect to see.

Product recap

Below are my leading premium trends from KBIS 2024, with valuable input from my colleagues:

  • Brass reigned supreme, appearing in plumbing fixtures, door and cabinet hardware, appliance pulls, and accents throughout KBIS 2024. While touches of black and chrome were present, brass emerged as the primary finish of choice at the exhibition.
  • Tubular high spouts were prevalent, especially in three-hole faucets, featuring high, smooth tube spouts with bases that complemented their handles and escutcheons. These clean style spouts, being more cost-effective than cast creations, have found acceptance across traditional, transitional, and contemporary design styles, offering practicality with easy access.
  • Rounded edges emerged as a striking trend with bath and kitchen furniture. Whether in the form of cabinets, countertops, or large fixtures, rounded sides were a notable feature, adding a touch of sophistication to various exhibits. This design choice, while not everywhere, garnered attention for its ability to create a soft and inviting atmosphere, particularly when set into non-bordered spaces. In booths with floating designs, the incorporation of rounded edges further accentuated the sleek and seamless appearance, leaving a lasting impression.
  • Ribbed surfaces were ubiquitous, adorning faucet handles, hardware levers, pulls, appliance handles, ceramic, concrete and cabinet sidings. Exhibitors showcased various ribbing styles, adding texture and visual interest to materials such as brass, stainless steel, wood, and titanium. As previous years were all about knurling, 2024 is the year of ribbing.

Emerging trends that might offer a hint of future designs:

  • A few brands quietly showcased titanium faucet handles and hardware, hinting at its potential to gain traction in the latter half of the 2020s.
  • White finishes also made a tentative return, suggesting a renewed interest in trying to create the right white tone to address this log unserved market need.
  • Glass-type faucet handles added a clear and colorful touch.

The attendance at KBIS was substantial, evident from both the large number of attendees exploring the vast exhibition spaces and the caliber of individuals present. Among the bustling crowds, I had the privilege of encountering CEOs, buyers, and showroom managers representing influential plumbing supply companies and decorative showrooms. Their presence, alongside the numerous talented designers I encountered, underscored our industry’s dedication to innovation. Everyone was there to discover what's new, what fits their market, and what will truly excel. This diverse array of professionals is a true testament to the vast opportunities KBIS creates for the design and construction community.

Wrapping up KBIS 2024 and large product shows in general, come for the products and learn from the conversations.

If you would like to discuss this and share your thoughts, please reach out to me at LinkedIn.