The 2014 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) made its return to Las Vegas this year – over 75,000 visitors wandered the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre over 3 days. Pouring through the new finishes, materials, appliances, and systems first-hand is very much a Kitchen Designers’ “kid in a candy store” scenario.
Sub Zero & Wolf showed off their new lines at a private event held at the Mandarin Residential Suites. Three luxury suites decked out by Bruce Anderson Interiors; the working kitchens featured the New Generation appliances from Wolf and Sub Zero. The most obvious change in the Wolf line has been in the appearance of their wall ovens. I’ve shown the Transitional double oven pictured left. There’s also a Contemporary series, and Professional that sports the iconic red knobs. The Contemporary and Transitional series are a huge aesthetic improvement over their previous lines.
Wolf has also added to their “lifestyle” appliances with an integrated coffee maker. It looks quite slick in both “Transitional” and “Contemporary”, but the nicest feature is the milk system. Rather than having to clean milk residue out of the plumbing as has been the case in most coffee machines, Wolf’s system is self contained, allowing you to simply remove it and wash it in the dishwasher.
The Docking Drawer is a great example of “simpler is better”. The Docking Drawer allows the installation of a single gang outlet into a drawer box, creating a convenient and hidden place to charge your portable devices. The flexible cable shield ensures electrical connections won’t be compromised, and more importantly will pass electrical inspections. UL approval is pending, and they’ve started the CSA approval process.
The Mare hoodfan from Italian manufacturer Falmec was my favourite appliance find from KBIS 2014. The Mare addresses a common issue for me, and does so in a very stylish way. It uses Falmec’s E-Ion technology to clean the air so does not require a duct, making it a perfect solution for projects where exterior venting isn’t an option. The Mare can be used in either wall or island applications, and is available in several other designs.
Swiss plumbing manufacturer Laufen was one of the few European firms at the show, which is a real shame. Granted, there’s Eurocucina in Milan this April, but it would be nice to have a more European influence at KBIS.
Something European manufacturers do better than their North American counterparts is collaborate. Laufen’s IlBagnoAlessi line (above) is the result of a collaboration with Alessi designer Stefano Giovani. The playfulness of this line is unlike anything I saw elsewhere in the show.
Laufen also featured it’s new collaboration with Kartell (above). The Italian manufacturer of whimsical plastic furniture fit in perfectly with the clean lines and crisp edges of Laufen’s sinks. For this line, Laufen developed a new ceramic called SaphirKeramik. This new material is extremely light and strong which allows the sinks to have very thin walls and tight corners (1-2mm radius compared to 7-8mm standard in regular ceramic).
The surfacing materials sector made the biggest impressions this year. New colours and innovations in countertops, flooring and wall cladding were everywhere on the show floor giving attendees lots to absorb and consider.
I was given a hint this would be the case on two separate occasions: As a member of BlogTour at last year’s KBIS in New Orleans, I was personally shown a new product called Dekton by Cosentino. I recently wrote about a similar product called Neolith on my blog. Both products are part of an exciting new surfacing segment currently being referred to as ultracompact surface materials (USM).
I’ll let you read my initial post of Neolith for background. As for my in person impression? I’m ecstatic! Ultracompact surfaces promises to do to quartz surfacing what quartz surfacing did to granite. Not only is this material practically bullet-proof, it has the amazing ability to convincingly reproduce natural materials like marble (image above), concrete and even wood (image below) with ink-jet imaging and textured surfaces. Their Estatuario is extremely beautiful and so lifelike that even close-up it’s difficult to tell it’s not real marble. The image only gives you a tiny bit of the impression the real thing does.
I spent most of my time with Neolith for no other reason than I had seen Dekton at KBIS last year and I wanted to give the “new kid” a fair shake … that and the Neolith people had reached out to me and provided me with more information than any other supplier. They’re aggressive, which reminded me of when Cosentino introduced Silestone several years ago. This is good news for the design industry and consumers as it means that there is competition, results in innovation and in turn, superior products.
I have no doubt Dekton will add to their repertoire of materials, and I give them high marks for showing a very beautiful high-gloss finish. Dekton also claims to have better sheet sizes and thicknesses than their competitor which will result in more efficient use of sheets and subsequently lower prices to the end-user. As I said, competition is good for everyone, and in the world of surfacing USM just made things very interesting – clearly the star of the show this year.
The expo was a joy as usual, feeding the desire to exact my passion for kitchen design and remain on the forefront of the industry. There were whispers of what to expect at next year’s expo which I probably shouldn’t go into here – if you want to know more, you’ll have to come visit us at 97 Water.
This post was written by Arne Salvesen CKD, Kitchen Designer at Inform Kitchens & Bath