More than 37,000 people flocked to Chicago for one of the industry’s premiere events, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), which took place April 16-18. Trade show officials reported that attendance was up 30% over last year’s show.

“KBIS is always a wonderful opportunity for industry participants to showcase the latest product innovations to distributors and design professionals, and this year’s show was no exception. In fact, we were busier than ever at the booth — nothing replaces the chance to interact face-to-face with customers and key media and to give them a personalized tour of highlights from our collection,” said Gary Anders, president of Aquatic.

There were many new product innovations on display at this year’s show. Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Huntington Beach, CA, introduced a new kitchen system that could have an impact on kitchen cabinet design. The company developed a line of modular 36-inch products, including a 36-inch CoolDrawer, cooktop products, as well as a 36-inch DishDrawer to be released later this year and a 36-inch single oven to be released in 2011.

“Fisher & Paykel’s modular system provides flexibility, giving customers and design professionals an infinite number of optimal kitchen layouts,” said Laurence Mawhinney, president of Fisher & Paykel Appliances.

Another new item on display that could add a bit of spice to laundry rooms was BreezeDry, an eco-friendly clothes dryer from Grimm Brothers Plastic, located in Wapello, IA. Clothes are either laid on racks or hung inside a cabinet and a touch screen allows the user to either filter in outside air or ambient indoor air to dry the clothes. The company used KBIS to introduce its new wood doors for the unit.

Also, Wellborn Cabinets, located in Ashland, AL, introduced a high-tech cabinet, Media Life, which integrates the storage of a TV, photos, music, DVDs, and a locus for e-mail, podcasts and more. Sold as a complete package, including Apple computer, docking station, cables, Bose speakers, software and a wireless keyboard, Media Life cabinetry can be installed in a kitchen or as an entertainment center in a living room.

Fisher & Paykel Appliances developed a line of modular 36-inch appliances, which could impact
kitchen cabinet design.
Blending light and dark tones, as featured in this display
by Quality Cabinets, a division of Masco Corp., was a
popular trend at KBIS.

Cabinetry Trends
Of the new products and styles on display, white finishes appear to still be a favorite with designers, however the blending of light and dark tones is another trend that seems to be picking up steam. Several companies exhibited vignettes with some version of this trend. For example, Quality Cabinets, a division of Masco Corp., featured a kitchen with light upper cabinets and dark lower cabinets.

Ron Machunski, a sales rep for Showplace Wood Products, Harrisburg, SD, said that the blending trend started initially with kitchen islands being a separate color than the cabinets and that contrasting style eventually migrated to the cabinet units themselves. David Alderman, incoming president of the National Kitchen & Bath Assn., agreed, he noted that an increased number of exhibiting companies were showing light colored cabinets complemented by darker tones, both in paints and stains.

One benefit of blending light and dark colors is that it allows designers to have the best of both worlds with the popular white and off-white finishes, as well as creating a new aesthetic look.

Closet Products at the Show
Many cabinet companies were showing their diverse prefabricated storage component lines, which included everything from kitchen cabinets to closet systems and Murphy Beds.

Wellborn displayed a melamine closet system from its Distinctive Closets line. Angela O’Neill, director of marketing and advertising, said that last fall the company launched nearly 200 items, which are featured in its specification catalog, for its closets program.

Showplace Wood Products displayed a closet system made of solid wood, as well as its new line of Murphy Beds, which were introduced last fall. According to Machunski, Showplace received good feedback about the line, which he says is most popular in certain regions — vacation spots and areas with large populations of baby boomers.

Celebrity Sightings at KBIS
Among the energized attendees were a few celebrities including Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone, “The Apprentice” and TLC’s “Take Home Chef,” who kept things cooking at the Merillat booth. Also Bob Villa was roaming the trade show and blogging about hot items that caught his eye, including Rev-A-Shelf’s new product, “Curve,” a blind corner pull-out storage system featuring tempered safety glass with Stylinox, an anti-skid transparent coating. The system was displayed in clear glass cabinets.

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