Our team travels to a lot of design shows, but our trip to Las Vegas for the 2019 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) was a standout. We anticipated the excitement of an honour for our very own Katie Golec, but none of us foresaw such a strong showing of products and ideas promoting sustainability, health and wellness, and “smart” or IOT solutions. Our glimpse into this overdue trend reinforced the work we’re already doing along these lines and made us feel even more energized to work with forward-thinking companies and products.
But first, Katie! As we reported back in September, ACM junior designer Katie Golec was named to the prestigious National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) 30 Under 30 list for 2019.
In addition to receiving her award on the NeXT stage at KBIS, along with the other 30 Under 30s she had to complete a “mission” at the conference. In teams of ten, the young design stars were set loose in the showroom to choose their product favourites for the year. The choices were revealing, highlighting this year’s preoccupation with health and wellness, connectivity, and—crucially—sustainability. The group looking for the best sustainable product chose Ann Sacks’ Crackle Collection by Kohler WasteLab—glossy tiles in glorious colours made from recycled factory waste. Green initiatives The Crackle Collection is a perfect example of what appears to be a larger, and very welcome trend: sustainably sourced materials. Manufacturing processes necessarily produce waste, but as the saying goes about trash, it’s another person’s treasure. In partnership with its parent company Kohler, Ann Sacks recycles factory waste (which is mostly ceramic) into a gorgeous and durable tile. The product, which comes in six colours, is fired with an interactive glaze that breaks on the surface creating the cracked pattern from which the series takes its name.
The Crackle Collection is rightly receiving a lot of favourable press, and at ACM we want to share the love for eco-friendly initiatives. Let’s take a moment to shout out Flor for their unique, customizable, recycled carpet tiles. This product is made to your specifications from recycled carpet ensuring the planet is as happy with your floors are you are. At ACM we use carpet tiles frequently—most recently a selection from Flor sister company Interface during our 2019 HelluvaHut makeover. The trend towards green initiatives is heartening, and is also making inroads in the manufacturing sector. Quartz producer Cambria, for example, runs its mine on hydroelectric power and has committed to recycling all water and metal tooling used in their plant. Health and wellness The quintessential preoccupation with health and wellness was evident at the 2019 KBIS, nowhere as apparent as in the bathroom. From bidets to steam showers to next-generation bathtubs, the showroom was chock-a-block with options for world-class washrooms. In fact, the overall 30 Under 30 Wellness pick was the flotation tub by Toto—a zero-gravity soaker to wash away your woes. Even if you’re not quite ready for a Toto, mainstream brands like Kohler were showing off their spa-worthy feature sets like jets or bubbles, heated surfaces, and even hydrotherapy with sound vibrations.
IOT or “smart” technologies IOT (short for Internet of Things) has to do with the idea of extending the connectivity beyond the Internet. This is the technology that’s making your refrigerator, washing machine, and toilet—all traditionally “dumb”—smart. In keeping with 2019’s focus on bathrooms, it may come as no surprise that the smart toilet had people talking. Toto, the same company that made the zero-gravity bathtub, got chins wagging again with their Neorest smart toilet. This appliance meets your approach by raising its lid, and every feature—from a front or rear wash to the final rush of warm air—is completely customizable. Long popular in Asia, these are becoming sought after in Canada and the United States, so at ACM we always rough in GFCI and plumbing for a washlet and smart toilet should the owners want them in future. Kohler appears to be the other big player on the smart bathroom scene with a whole line of appliances like the DTV+™ system. Using with KOHLER Konnect®, you can create presets for sound, water, steam, and lighting—all activated through voice control. In the budget category, Kohler offers the stripped-down smart Moxie Showerhead that connects wirelessly to your devices using Bluetooth. It’s clear that IOT devices are on the rise. This is yet another reason why we generally install electrical outlets with USB input. If our team learned anything at the KBIS 2019, it’s that connected “smart” products designed and manufactured sustainably, especially with a focus on wellness and health, are on the rise. We couldn’t be happier about it!