The 2008  Kitchen and Bath Industry Show was just held in Chicago this past weekend. As always, it was an eye-opening experience. I love to wander the show to see all the changes that are happening in the kitchen or bathroom.

For a small cabinet shop K/BIS would be enlightening for all the new elements in cabinetry and surrounding it. Often, you'll find cutting edge trends at K/BIS, what the consumer and designers are clamoring for. Those trends might be something that could ultimately affect the type of cabinets you design and build.

Variations on a theme

It's at shows like K/BIS where you'll see changes that are starting to emerge. The new products you see at the show may have subtle differences or may be just variations on a theme, such as refrigerator and dishwasher drawers. Sometimes the changes are new colors or textures, sizes and shapes.

Since I go to the show every year, sometimes it's easy for me to forget that others in the industry aren't as familiar with the trends that I'm seeing.

I remember the time I saw the innovative storage system that Diamond Cabinets was marketing at K/BIS. A lot of the storage hardware could be found at the booths of the hardware companies, but Diamond marketed a system that used all available cabinet space and appealed to the consumer who wanted to organize. Now, storage is not only in most every cabinet manufacturer's display, but also in virtually every configuration and every room of the house.

It's here where you'll find the newest and latest in functional and decorative hardware. Drawers and doors, fitted with the right hardware, open with the touch of a finger, while other doors lift up or slide to open and close. Everything is about easy access.

How does it affect me?

With all the new trends and products first I wonder how the consumer will feel about this, and then I wonder how it will affect the way cabinets are designed or constructed.

It's easy to understand the impact of hardware if it gets trendy, you have to offer it to compete. But what about oversized refrigerator or dishwasher drawers how will that affect you? What about the 'green' movement or ADA or Universal Design? How will the newest technology affect what you design and offer your clients? Are you going to be ready when they ask for it?

I've seen toilets and sinks that are downsized for toddlers, toilets that clean your backside automatically, bath tubs that are the ultimate in luxury and refrigerators that tell you what groceries you need. Maybe some of those products seem over the top today, but keeping up with the newest trends could open up new markets for you or bring in savvy customers.

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