The Healthy Abode: KBIS 2011 Wrap-up by Melanie Holden

The Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) is the annual platform of the kitchen & bath industry’s latest products, design trends, and innovative technology. This 4-day conference and expo is hosted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and typically hosts roughly 1000 exhibitors and 45,000 attendees, though it was clearly a bit more intimate this year.

This year, Kitchen and Bath professionals from around the world converged on the scene in Las Vegas. After attending the past 2 KBIS shows in Chicago, I was excited for a change of scenery in Sin City.

It was my first journey to this convention center and I found the layout to be a little choppy and difficult to navigate. It felt like we were constantly missing sections and found ourselves backtracking quite a bit to make sure we saw everything. Maybe I’m just spoiled by the open layout of Chicago’s McCormick Place. Regardless, rather than focusing in on the layout, lets get down to what we all really want to know – what kind of new products and trends are out there for your kitchen or bath?

There were so many inspired and innovative products exhibited at the show, but if someone was to ask me what product stuck out in my head over all others, I must say Kohler’s Numi integral toilet + bidet takes the cake! It is the ultimate in tech-savvy toilet technology and there is very little that this brilliant fixture won’t do!

The lid opens when it sees you approaching, and then it may sing to you through its integral speakers – your choice of Kohler’s playlist or yours. If that’s not enough, it has a heated seat AND floor warmer for those cold winter mornings. No more chilly bums or tootsies if you have a Numi in your household! Numi also has an air dryer, a deodorizing filter, ambient lighting, a touch-screen remote, multiple user settings, water conserving flush options, AND it even knows if you are a man or woman. All this for a mere $6,400.00. Get your crown for this throne!

My favorite material was the Ann Sacks tile. Ann Sacks has long been one of my most favorite tile lines. A large selection of their gorgeous tiles are designed by some of the world’s most renoun designers such as Barbara Barry, Michael S. Smith, and now Vincente Wolfe. Vincente Wolfe was in Vegas launching his new Vincente Wolfe Textures Collection which includes a multitude of amazing tile designs, all reflecting his appreciation for “the way nature engages the senses.”

Brizo’s new Art Deco inspired bathroom faucet, Charlotte was a frontrunner for faucet introductions. Not only is the style stunning and streamlined, the dual finish really put this one over the top for me. Combining Polished Nickel and Cocoa Bronze is an elegant, unexpected twist on the bathroom faucet. Charlotte is not yet available to ship, but I will be one of the first in line to spec this one out as soon as it becomes available later this year.

Toto introduced their Luminist Vessel Sink, which I love. Who knew that a LED illuminated ring could be used as an uber fabulous sink?

Digital was everywhere. Kohler first introduced the DTV (Digital Thermostatic Valve) a few years ago to streamline their carwash showers. While the DTV is still available, along with the DTVII, some smaller-scale options have become available. Temperature control and water conserving shower systems are hot items. Kohler’s DTV Prompt, Moen’s ioDIGITAL, and Hansgrohe’s RainBrain systems (though HGR was nowhere to be found on ths show floor this year) feature electronic panels that control shower preferences for multiple users.

The most recurring theme that I noticed is that EVERYONE is making at least some products with water conservation and sustainability in mind. I can’t say whether the motivation to introduce so many “green” products comes from a true enthusiasm for environmentally conscious designs, or the necessity to keep up with the “green” innovators, but it was refreshing to see so many options! I must say, it is rather ironic to see the juxtaposition of low flow toilets and faucets often showcased next to car wash showers with multiple bodyprays and showerheads or with a family-sized tub that would require a commercial-grade water heater just to fill with warm water.

I noticed a stronger focus than previous years on the changing demographic of the kitchen and bath consumer. The Ageing in Place scenario was a large factor for some manufacturers, addressing the flourishing needs of the Baby Boomers as their changing physical needs influence kitchen & bath design.

Overall, there was definitely a shift in the type of products being shown. There has always been a dominance of plumbing and hardware vendors, but there was an obvious void in the appliance and cabinetry world this year. However, for every appliance or cabinet manufacturer that was missing, there seemed to be scores of obscure foreign manufacturers with fun little booths and some unique products to fill the voids. Looking forward to see what suprises Chicago holds for next year!

it’s time to “speak” up!

Whether you are building your retirement portfolio or training for your first marathon, you may search for advice online but ultimately you covet a face-to-face experience with a professional.  When it comes to tackling a home remodeling project, however, homeowners often don’t know where to get the information needed to ensure their project’s success.  Searching for advice online usually results in more confusion and frustration.  Where are all the design professionals when you really need them?

That’s where DesignSpeak comes in!  We’re here to help you connect with the many talented individuals residing in St. Louis.  Our goal is to demystify the design process in a fun and unintimidating way!

One such approach is our annual “ispeak” cocktail party, which is being held this year on the rooftop of Park Pacific boasting beautiful architecture and sweeping views of the city. Interior designers, trade professionals, design students and homeowners are invited to meet and mingle in keeping with the concept of “speaking about design.”

This is an amazing opportunity for you, the homeowner, to toss your most pressing questions in DesignSpeak’s proverbial lap.  We welcome your dilemmas so that we can give you the best possible solutions!

“What do your spaces say to you?”  “What’s your greatest design challenge?”

We are excited to have your participation in this engaging event!  Attendees will be visiting stations detailing our upcoming events and view cutting-edge products followed by a lively mini-presentation inspired by the principles of design.

Join the movement to make your voice heard on September 21. The cost of the event is $25 for homeowners, which includes an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a bonus one year membership to DesignSpeak.

To learn more, view the constant contact invitation here or contact for details.



august “speakeasy” at the Moonrise

70 fabulous people braved the heat for an amazing evening atop the Moonrise Hotel!  Huge thank you to the event staff for their hospitality in leading several groups of interested design professionals through their unique hotel rooms! Also, big thanks to Colt Industries for providing us with yummy treats!

Here are a few images to capture the evening!  Looking forward to this month’s ispeak event at Park Pacific where we will be toasting with homeowners as well as the design community!


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