It was a different Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago this past April. The first day the exhibit hall had healthy traffic flow, but it seemed to taper off a bit over the next few days.

Kohler President/COO David Kohler presented the keynote address at KBIS.

It was a different Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Chicago this past April. The first day the exhibit hall had healthy traffic flow, but it seemed to taper off a bit over the next few days. The National Kitchen and Bath Association said there were more than 37,000 attendees this year, up nearly 30% vs. last year. Here are some highlights:

Mike Hogenmiller, general manager, Your “other” Warehouse, said the past few weeks had been “phenomenal” and noted that the market is probably at the bottom end of an upward curve, not down. He said e-commerce is growing and YOW is starting to service Canada.

Russ Wheeler, president, Hansgrohe - North America, said business is starting to pick up and the company hired about 20 people for manufacturing in the U.S. “We are cautiously optimistic [about] the rest of the year,” Wheeler said.

That view was echoed by Kevin McJoynt, vice president of marketing at Gerber Plumbing Fixtures, who observed, “We think we have seen the bottom, but it might be a long bottom.”  He projected that 2010 will be flat, although there may have been a slight uptick in the last quarter.

“We see regional differences,” McJoynt said. “For Gerber it has been reasonably good - we are holding our own, gaining customers, watching costs and investing in the future.”

Danze unveiled the Wynstone Collection of lavatory and tub faucets and matching bath accessories. The WaterSense-compliant lavatory faucets feature a wide, flat delivery of water, reminiscent of a waterfall spout. The collection is offered in polished chrome, brushed nickel and a new, warm “Tumbled Bronze” finish (available later this summer).

Mike Hogenmiller (left), general manager at YOW, chatted with our own Jim Olsztynski.

Rheem is featuring Marathon storage tanks as part of its SolPak active closed-loop solar water heating systems, which are also packaged with solar collectors, pump controller to enable homeowners to track the kilowatts the system has generated, mixing valve, thermal expansion tank, glycol solution for freeze protection, and collector mounting hardware.

BLANCO demonstrated its RONIS one-piece round entertainment sink which features MicroEdge technology for a seamless, flush-mount look. It includes a glass cutting board and an accessory tray with two round stainless steel bowls (one is perforated so it can double as a colander). The integrated accessories rotate 360 degrees.

Moen introduced the Method suite of WaterSense-certified lavatory faucets, available in chrome or LifeShine Classic Brushed Nickel. The suite, which utilizes Moen’s MïPACT valve system, blends clean lines with soft curves for a sophisticated, modern appearance.

Russ Wheeler, president, Hansgrohe - North America, showed off the PuraVida hand shower.

Delta Faucet Co. invited booth visitors to tap on a faucet featuring Touch20 Technology. Users can activate the faucet with the touch of a wrist, forearm or elbow. The faucet also has a traditional handle that controls the flow and temperature of the water. When in “Touch” mode, the water flow and temperature remain the same as in the previous use. The water flow automatically shuts off after four minutes if it is left running with no activity.

Brizo showed the Siderna, a new ribbon spout faucet with a contemporary look that was expected to become available later this year. The handles are decorated with glass accents and its design provides a generous reach into the sink bowl.

At the Kohler booth, Robern said it has entered the vanity business. On display was a vanity that featured a nightlight on every drawer, outlets inside a drawer and slow-close technology.

Broan introduced the EVOLUTION series of under-cabinet range hoods available in three models to suit a variety of budgets. Each model features enhanced lighting output, improved capture effectiveness due to larger (and dishwasher-safe) filters, smooth surfaces, a fully-enclosed bottom and a 40% sound reduction.

Alsons exhibited its In2ition shower system, shown here in Mustang Red.

Basco displayed two new shower enclosure lines, Rolaire and Evo. Rolaire’s rolling door mechanism has a distinct, industrial, simple design for a contemporary, edgy and “loft-y” look. Evo features contemporary, clean lines and an ergonomic handle. Its rolling mechanism is concealed within the header. Both Rolaire and Evo have a fixed panel design that fits well in spaces with limited accessibility or obstructions.

Webert Italian Design showed its European-inspired bath faucets and fixtures that are now distributed in North and South America by its marketing partner, Elkay. Collections include Wolo, Loth2O, Flauto, Azeta, Elio, Trefle and Firenze.

TOTO expanded its Waza collection with undercounter basins that update historic designs: Barocco, which reflects the delicate stitching and lace on wedding dresses from Europe’s Baroque period; Sultana, which features repeating geometric forms and  reinterpreted Moorish patterns; and Tiraz, which draws inspiration from early Persian textiles with interlacing, repeated geometric design.

The 2011 KBIS show is scheduled for April 26-28 in Las Vegas.

Photos by Pat Lenius, unless otherwise noted

Other show highlights:

Howard Frankel (left), president of New York-based Central Plumbing Specialties, toured the exhibit floor with staff members from the company’s Grande Central showrooms (L-R): Charlie Haxhaj, sales associate at the Bond St. showroom; Jennifer Lagana, sales associate at the Yonkers showroom; and Greg Smith, manager of the 56th St. showroom.

John Murphy (left), showroom manager at Redlon & Johnson, Manchester, NH, and president of the National Association of Plumbing Showroom Professionals, visited the Basco Shower Enclosures booth and met with Jason DeBruer, eastern regional manager.

Niagara Conservation demonstrated the Stealth ultra-high-efficiency toilet that reduces per-flush usage to 0.8 gallons. It is offered in round front, elongated and ADA-height models. Photo courtesy of Niagara Conservation.

Coway shower its BA-13 (pictured here) and BA-17 bidets. The BA-13 premium bidet is designed to fit any U.S. toilet type and size, and installs with a “Sliding Seat” system. Upgraded features include the twin stainless nozzle and the silver oxide sterilization cleansing system. Photo courtesy of Coway.