Many of the products on display at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago featured higher-end yet affordable designs and new finishes.

Models carrying faucets danced on a runway. An internationally renowned fashion stylist performed makeovers. Refrigerators, lavatories, toilets and shower doors sported artistic designs. Water splashed in or spurted from jetted tubs, assorted showerheads and a wide array of faucets. Agile acrobats performed stunts combining the grace of a dancer with the daring of a circus performer from high above product displays. The 2004 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show held at Chicago's McCormick Place April 1-4 provided attendees with a provocative preview of products created to bring beauty and functionality into homes and businesses.

In Part I of our K/BIS coverage, we will look at some of the new products unveiled at the show.

Price Pfister introduced what it calls the industry's first pullout faucet for the bathroom. Its Catalina lavatory faucet features decorative arc styling and a concealed pullout sprayhead that delivers four different stream and spray options. Fashion stylist Neil Letham of Salon Gregorie's provided personal makeovers at Price Pfister's booth as part of its “Pfresh Look” theme.

Delta Faucet Co. unveiled its BRIZO™ brand to replace its current premium line, Delta Select®. Named for a Greek goddess, BRIZO is intended to be a fashion brand in the faucet industry, with high style and advanced design.

“The brand is more than just a name,” says Ray Kennedy, senior vice president/sales and marketing, at Delta Faucet Co. “It tells a story of inspiration, beauty, performance and reliability.”

The Floriano Collection for the kitchen is one of BRIZO's newest product lines. Floriano's single-handle, high-arc faucet has a transitional, pull-down design. Its organic form complements the trend toward symmetry and horizontal lines in home décor.

Deca, a South American manufacturer of vitreous china and metal kitchen and bath products, introduced its UL 93 above-counter fireclay washbasin, designed to bring elegance to a small space. It measures 19-3/4 inches by 16-1/8 inch wide and is 5-1/8 inches high. Its contemporary design offers architectural beauty with no visible waste valves.

Kohler Co. presented a new category of products, Nature's Chemistry™, that transforms indigenous materials such as metal, glass, clay and stone into evocative fixtures for the kitchen and bath. One of the newest entries in this line is the Tableau™ wall-mount cast iron lavatory. Its side edges roll from left and right to a glossy enameled countertop, then glide into a hollow bowl to form a basin. Tableau is offered in Kohler Vapour™ translucent colors: light blue, pink, green, orange and indigo.

American Standard introduced an affordable, easy-to-install shower system that converts an ordinary shower into a spa-like hydromassage with no behind-the-wall work required. The new VertiSpa® includes a vertical shower tower with five body spray jets that connects to the surface of the wall and an overhead adjustable showerhead.

Villeroy & Boch unveiled Aveo, a collection of bathroom fixtures inspired by the simple, comforting, oval shape of an egg, designed by Conran & Partners, a British-based design firm. The collection includes a lavatory, bidet, toilet and tub. Various lavatory styles are offered including vessel, vanity and pedestal, and self-rimming designs.

Elkay introduced more than 20 highly stylized faucets, including the LK7420 kitchen pre-rinse, featuring a residential-scale dish spray with a single-control joy-stick-like handle to control water temperature and volume. It is deck-mounted, provides an 8-inch reach and has a stainless steel braided hose.

Lasco Bathware showed its new acrylic drop-in mount jetted whirlpool/Champagne Bubbler combination tub, featuring traditional styling with a beveled edge. The 66-inch by 44-inch tub is also available as a soaking tub with a low-profile deck.

MTI Whirlpools presented its new Primm freestanding soaker tub, supported by a hand-forged wrought iron frame. Decorated with a cattails (wild flowers) theme to convey the impression of a pond, the frame was designed by Atlanta artist Dennis Primm.

Alsons Corp. displayed its new low profile 682 Series “watering can” 8-1/2-inch showerhead, designed to provide maximum water coverage. Finishes include chrome, 18-Karat gold, oil-rubbed bronze and satin nickel. It can be mounted overhead or on a telescoping Shower Down™ shower arm, which extends from 13 inches up to 22 inches from the wall-mount to the showerhead.

BLANCO introduced its BLANCOPRECISION series of stainless steel sinks, offered in nine designs, each hand-crafted from a single sheet with a near seamless appearance. The sinks complement stone, quartz and solid surface countertops, ideally with zero reveal installation.

Lorenz Industries introduced Vachner luxury showerheads and hoses with built-in Microban® antimicrobial product protection. The multi-function showerheads are adjusted by turning a control ring. They can be cleaned by rubbing the soft rubber jets while the shower is running. The hoses are Microban protected inside and outside.

Mansfield showed its commissioned Wetland theme EcoQuantum pressure-assist dual flush toilet, created to draw attention to the need for water conservation. David Greene of Columbus, Ohio, the lead artisan, designed the piece to show how water conservation also impacts animals, birds and fish.

Rinnai displayed its whole-house tankless hot water system at the show to attract the attention of designers doing kitchen and bath remodels. A tankless hot water system saves space and is more energy efficient, particularly for handling custom baths and showers or larger capacity tubs, according to Robert Kirkpatrick, national sales manager, water heater division. “We have whole house systems that can handle a 3-1/2 bath home, where you can run three standard showers at the same time,” he said.

Look for more news from the show in the Bath & Kitchen News section beginning on page 13 in this issue and further coverage in the July issue.