Last week the 2021 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show went virtual.

I was really looking forward to this new format and booked off the week to “attend”.

Unfortunately things did not go well for the show organizers with multiple technical issues on the first day and the decision made to shut down the platform on day two.

Jumping on first thing Tuesday I experienced some hiccups, but persevered, figured out some work arounds, and got access to the show floor. (By Wednesday am the show floor was no longer available!)

I’m glad I kept connected late into Tuesday night and I am delighted to be able to share my insights from cruising the virtual show floor that first day.

Before I get into my insights, let’s start by looking at some stats for the Kitchen & Bath industry.

  • In 2020 total sales for the Kitchen & Bath industry was $136 billion
  • 2021 sales are projected to increase by 16.6% to $158 billion
  • Kitchen & Bath sales for new homes to increase by 22% in 2021
  • Kitchen & Bath remodeling sales to increase by 10% in 2021
  • Medium and high-end projects to lead project types in 2021
  • Medium projects to increase by 18.5% and high-end by 20%

These statistics show us how strong the Kitchen & Bath industry is and that the demand for Kitchen & Bath professionals will remain high in the foreseeable future.

All the more reason to stay at the top of your game!

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Attending KBIS is a great way to see what is happening in the K&B industry and keep you in the know.

The exhibitor list for KBIS 2021 was substantially down from 2020 but I still felt that trends emerged from the smaller number of exhibitors.

During the show I focused on reviewing new products for Kitchens and here are my top 3 insights.

The first is:

Industrial Décor Style

industrial kitchen with moody color scheme from Eurocucina 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Industrial Kitchen Design in a moody color scheme from EuroCucina 2018

The EuroCucina show held in Milan, Italy every 2 years is where many Kitchen Design Trends start and spread out across the world.

Industrial décor style was a strong trend at the EuroCucina show in 2018.

This Décor style features dark matte metals, rustic textures, and moody color schemes.

Many suppliers at the KBIS 2021 show were echoing the Industrial trend in their offerings.

Let’s look at some companies that featured new product offerings with and Industrial feel.

Element Designs
Element Designs’ Aluminum Frame Base System as a Kitchen Island

The Aluminum Frame Base Systems by Element Designs were one of the first products I saw on the show floor that evoked the Industrial style.

It is a metal frame system that can be used as a base support for islands and base cabinets.

The system can also be configured as legs under wood base cabinets for an industrial accent.

By incorporating these elements into your design you would be setting the stage for an up to date Industrial look.

Element Designs’ eCubed Shelving system

Element Designs also showed eCubed Shelving and the eCube ladder under their new products umbrella.

It is an open framed metal support system with multiple shelf options.

The metal components are thinner than the Aluminum Frame Base System.

I see this look as the step up from thick floating shelves. It is lighter feeling and gives that more modern industrial feel rather than a modern farmhouse look.

The featured look from Element Designs was in matte black metal with clear glass shelves. This echoed the looks I saw at EuroCucina.

What was unique about the eCubed system was the 11 different metal frame options, the 8 standard glass options and the 24 back-painted glass options.

Add in your own stained wood shelves and the system offers infinite possibilities for designers.

Hafele

Hafele was showing a similar shelving system to the eCubed shelving called the Smartcube Open Shelving System.

What drew me to this offering was the image that showed LED lighting in the bottom of the shelf.

When specifying shelves like these in the standard upper cabinet location, countertop task lighting is important and this would deliver.

Osborn Wood Products

I was delighted when I popped into this booth and saw the McKinley Industrial Bases shown in a matte black metal finish.

Unexpected from a wood products manufacturer!

These products are designed to support a countertop or a tabletop.

While sold in pairs, I could see a single unit supporting a cantilever island counter in an Industrial styled Kitchen.

They really hit the mark with this square shaped design that would feel right at home in an Industrial loft or a Contemporary home.

The Pullman Industrial Bases, with their X design were also right on trend.

Installed they would be a nice contrast to painted or stained millwork bringing a lot of style to a room at a very reasonable price point.

Emtek
Emtek’s Knurled pattern cabinet handle

An emerging detail for the Industrial Décor look is the knurled pattern.

The knurled patter is produced by etching ridges into a metal surface in a cross hatched pattern.

I have begun to see this pattern appearing on a variety of products.

The hardware company Emtek introduced there Emtek Select Cabinet Pull Series featuring the option of a knurled bar at KBIS 2021.

This hardware offering also made this list in another one of my KBIS 2021 insights and will appear again later in this post.

The second insight on my search of new products at KBIS 2021 was:

The Modernist Cuisine Movement

Multiple Oven Options at Miele

I did not coin this phrase but when I tuned into the webinar “How We Cook: A Chef’s Guide to Residential Appliances” presented by Andrew Forlines, and heard it for the first time, I knew it was the perfect way to describe my next insight.

The Modernist Cuisine Movement stems from consumers wanting more precision and details in the recipes they produce at home.

To deliver this, appliance manufacturers are developing products that allow home cooks to produce high-end restaurant quality dishes at home.

I remember in the late 80’s when the Viking Corporation introduced the Pro-styled range and it changed residential kitchen appliances forever.

This new movement is positioned to once again change how we view residential kitchen appliances.

Some of the appliances being introduced to do this include:

  • induction cooktops
  • steam ovens
  • speed ovens
  • vacuum sealing drawers

Many of these products offer the home cook the opportunity to try out new tecniques without the fear of failure.

Appliance manufacturers have been conducting research and development in new cooking equipment for a few years now with most brands now offering some of these features in their lineups.

What I was looking for was any unique applications.

Foster
Foster’s inline Induction Cooktop

Even though induction cooktops have been around for many years, the brand Foster introduced one in a new shape.

Most cooktops are a standard square shape with two burners up front and two in the back.

The Italian manufacturer Foster offers a variety of their induction hobs (cooktops) in a linear rectangular shape.

This shape allows a chef and a sous chef to work side by side in the kitchen with each cook having full access to the pots and pans under their culinary control.

LED Screen on refrigerator for recipes

In the new product launch category, appliances had the highest number of entries with 35!

This again shows that there is a lot of innovation happening in the appliance category in general.

Another feature many manufacturers are introducing into their appliances is LED screens to display pre-programed recipes.

These step by step recipes take the guess work out of cooking, encouraging the home cook to try something new without the fear of failure.

Check out major manufactures and you will find this feature in their offerings.

In keeping with consumers wanting a restaurant like experience at home, wine preservation was featured in the new products category.

Here are two that stood out.

Dacor
Dacor’s Wine Preservation and Dispensing Unit

The Dacor brand featured the first built-in, automated, temperature controlled, four-bottle wine dispensing and preservation system for the home.

The WineStation has been designed for the wine aficionado who wants the perfect glass of wine over multiple days.

The system allows a single bottle of wine to be opened and stored for up to 60 days without the loss of flavor or natural aroma.

Plum
Plum’s Wine Storage and Delivery System

The Plum wine storage and delivery system is available as a built-in and a countertop model.

Both units can chill wine to the perfect temperature and then dispense the exact amount you desire, preserving the rest of the bottle perfectly for many days.

These systems would be a great addition to a client’s beverage bar and will bring the restaurant sommelier experience to the home.

My last insight from the KBIS 2021 exhibitor’s new products launches is:

Personalization

This is the trend I am most excited about.

I have always promoted individualized designs, feeling clients should not be forced into cookie-cutter looks.

Many of the new products showcased at KBIS 2021 had manufactures offering designers and their clients ways to get unique or one-of-a-kind products for their Kitchens.

This trend towards personalization is sure to be a hit with both designers and homeowners.

Samsung
Samsung’s Bespoke Refrigeration System

Samsung introduced their Bespoke Refrigerators at the show in eye catching colors and sleek design.

Their marketing message promoted homeowners being able to add on to their refrigerator as their needs changed.

The system allows designers to mix and match elements for unique refrigeration combination in both function and aesthetic look.

I loved the eight interesting colors and two finishes. A very unique offering for modern Kitchen Design.

Bluestar
Bluestar’s Range Customization

Bluestar was really thinking outside of the box with this new product.

I am pretty sure this is in the prototype stage because I could not find any additional info on their website, but I will be sure to follow them to see how it evolves.

What they were showing was refrigerators and ranges in any color or pattern a designer could dream up printed on the appliance.

It reminded me of wallpaper for your appliances

I don’t think you could get a more personal design then that!

House of Rhol

The House of Rhol was showcasing a series of sinks called Gallery by Shaws.

These apron front sinks had imagery fired into the front of the sinks to produce a focal point in the Kitchen.

While not available as a custom offering where you could apply any design, they were offering a variety of motifs to give a uniqueness to each piece.

Foster
Foster’s Phantom Sink Base

Foster introduced the Phantom Base for sinks.

It is a shower like pan for designing custom Kitchen sinks.

It allows the sides of the sink to be produced from the slab material that matches the counter material.

A stainless steel base at the bottom includes a standard drain for easy plumbing hookup.

I can see some very interesting design solutions with this product.

Designers would be able to specify the perfect ergonomic sink depth for their clients based on the client’s height.

Emtek
Emtek’s Select series of Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

Mixing metals has been trending in Kitchen Design for awhile now, but you could only get it by specifying different products in different metals.

Emtek introduced their Emtek Select cabinet hardware series allowing designers to mix metals within the same product.

The collection includes separate posts and rods that can be combined to make a unique kitchen cabinet door handle.

They offer 7 finish options, smooth and knurled bars, and 7 different lengths.

I predict we will see more manufactures in the future offering this flexibility to allow personalization.

The last personalization product I want to highlight is by:

Blum

Blum is the gold standard when it comes to cabinet hinges and drawer slides.

They were the ones that revolutionized kitchen cabinet drawers with their full extension soft close drawer slides.

They are about to change the way we look at Kitchen Cabinetry again.

They introduced a new hinge for thin front cabinet materials.

Traditional hinges for frameless cabinetry required a thick cabinet door to accommodate the hinge cup to be imbedded into the door.

This new door hinge is going to open up the cabinet door options to designers because materials as thin as 8-14 mm (3/8″ – 1/2″) will be able to be properly hinged.

As a former custom millwork shop owner I see this as a big breakthrough!

It will be cool to see what designers will be specifying for door materials in the future based on this innovation.

The opportunity for unique applications has been raised!

To wrap up, I’m glad I was able to get around the KBIS 2021 show floor the first day of the event and share my insights with you.

Hopefully the show will be able to regroup and bring it back online soon. If it does I will definitely be there!

Please let me know your thoughts on new products being launched this year in the Kitchen Design arena. You can leave a comment below.

Jan Rutgers B.Sc. H.Ec.

Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.

2 Comments on “My Top 3 Insights from the KBIS 2021 Virtual Show Floor

  1. Thanks, Jan! This is a great synopsis. While I knew of a few of your noted new trends, there were others I had not yet seen and it was great to get a quick and thorough overview of appealing new products from your expert perspective.

    • Thanks for you comment Tanya. I will be continuing my research into these trends this year, especially the Modernest Cuisine Movement. I’m launching an in-depth appliance course this spring and this trend really talks to the importance of the Kitchen Designer understanding appliances.

Leave a Reply to Tanya Cancel reply

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