ALPHARETTA, Ga. – The 2012 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), held April 24 - 26, 2012, drew thousands of professionals to Chicago's McCormick Place, the site of the largest event in the industry. The National Kitchen & Bath Association's annual show and conference brought together 550 exhibiting companies with 16,091 industry buyers and specifiers, a ten percent increase from 2011. This included independent kitchen and bath designers, custom builders, remodelers, architects, dealers and retailers. Three hundred media outlets converged on the convention center to see the latest products and hottest technology and trends, and a bustling press room was clear indication of the high level of media activity surrounding the Show. With 32,078 confirmed registrations, this year's event felt a surge of energy and revitalization, delivering on the promise to provide a new experience and opportunity to touch the future.

“KBIS provides the unique opportunity to network and gain critical insights into a changing market, and this year’s show had an array of innovative and inspirational products and designs from our exhibitor partners. KBIS 2012 showed that our industry is reinventing itself and utilizing insights from the marketplace to develop new products and designs that change how we interact in both the kitchen and bath,” said Jim Scott, managing director of KBIS.

With an exceptional schedule of events, expert speakers and premiere exhibits, industry trends emerged throughout KBIS. Renowned kitchen and bath design bloggers, including Caitlin Grogan, digital content director of and, Leslie Clagett of, Susan Serra of The Kitchen Designer, Brandon A. Smith, LEED AP, Principal, and Marilyn Russell, President/Principal Designer of Design Magnifique, participated in a KBIS panel exploring trend spotting in the design world and cited the following top industry trends based on their experience at KBIS 2012.

Finish Frenzy

With the economy improving, homeowners are more likely to spend on products that add to the beauty of their home, including a shift in color palettes throughout a variety of design mediums. Sinks and tiles were draped in color, while black faucets and other earthly hues experienced a resurgence in both the kitchen and bath. Exhibitors also embraced the exploration of lighter shades. White and grey were popular in natural stone tile and quartz surfaces, as well as appliances, and attendees embraced the unique movement and light color incorporated into the new products. Serra notes, “We’re also seeing what I like to call ‘smart texture’ which includes products that are outside of today's clear trends, yet easy to adopt into any kitchen design for a more personal design alternative. For example, updated granite-like countertops with pops of color in the pattern or a fresh take on the use of stained glass or retro tile for the backsplash speak to today's aesthetic and are offered by both small and large manufacturers.”

Colliding Generations

KBIS 2012 strongly emphasized the impact of colliding generations in the marketplace through the unveiling of its UNcontained exhibit. Products at the show reflected the unique desires and characteristics of each generation, including exhibitors striving to make aging in place easier for the Zoomer (ages 45-65) and Prime Timer (ages 66-plus) generations. Designs included

cabinets that opened at the touch of a button, shades controlled by a hand-held remote, walk-in tubs with digital technology and hardware in extended sizes. These products also fit right in with the younger generations, who appreciate technology and products that make their busy lives easier. According to Grogan, “Hand-in-hand with the aging-in-place trend, are products designed to last. More products encourage the homeowner to design with taste, rather than resale value, in mind. Black matte finishes, for instance, offer the homeowner an opportunity to showcase their personal style.”

The Age of Fashion

This year’s show presented a unique shift toward a fashion aesthetic. Many exhibitors debuted fashion-forward styles and partnerships with designers reflecting society’s fascination with the cutting-edge. From ovens with fire-engine red exteriors to bathroom mirrors that function as works of art, many areas of KBIS reflected the feel a fashion runway.

Integrated Solutions

As consumers try to do more with less space, exhibitors took storage to the next level in 2012 by integrating products seamlessly into the home. From refrigerators that blend right into cabinetry to drawer inserts that provide quick access to hard to reach spots, these new storage solutions generated new, unexpected openings for work spaces. Concealed kitchen shelving and extra wide sinks boasting functional colanders and cutting boards within were also heavily featured, as storage possibilities spread from not only closets and the garage but to the kitchen and bath as well.

Technology Takeover

Twitter dominated the show floor at KBIS this year with multiple tweet-ups, in-person meetings for members of Twitter, and the quick spread of constant online chatter surrounding must-see products and trends. Many exhibitors also debuted advanced technology in their booths, from products that include smart phone applications to designs that mix light and sound in the bathroom. Toilets can now determine how long you’ve been sitting, or open the lid as one walks towards it and even wall sockets are built smarter to now incorporate direct USBs plug-ins for consumers using laptops and charging their phones in the hub of their home, the kitchen.


Although environmental sustainability has evolved to become standard in the industry, exhibitors are now making it easier than ever to go green. High efficiency toilets and showerheads are the norm and can easily be installed or retrofitted in any home. Recycling has even become easier, with compactors that can silently crush cans installed right into kitchen cabinet space. Technological advances like motion sensor faucets and lighting have become more sophisticated, helping to save both water and energy. Exhibitors also reclaimed materials used every day, redesigning them with the environment in mind.

For additional information and highlights from KBIS 2012, please visit

Source: National Kitchen & Bath Association

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