Wednesday, May 8, 2013

BlogTourNOLA - KBIS Observations

With a few weeks of perspective I've been able to examine my notes and photos, and read some of the other BlogTour participants' recollections of KBIS, and while this year was certainly a different experience for me, it was by no means a poor one.  Here are some of my observations from the show:

White was everywhere at KBIS, and I'm not just talking about the powdered sugar on the beignets.  Appliances, hardware (I discussed DuVerre's white handles last month) and even plumbing fixtures are being offered in both matte and gloss white.  I first saw the Vuelo faucet with the Blogger19 group in New York.  At the time the Vuelo kitchen faucet in Cocoa Bronze finish was the most elegant thing I'd seen, but I think you'll agree the same faucet in classic white takes it to a completely different level.  I'm no fashion expert, but I'm seeing Ginger Rogers here.

It's my belief that quartz countertops are succeeding in their plans for world domination simply because they are able to bring high quality, durable, stain proof countertops in light colours to the kitchen.  Marble lovers may say that the "patina" their marble countertops develop over time adds to their character, but secretly they wish the marble wouldn't stain.

Silestone has been an industry leader in quartz surfacing for as long as I've been aware of quartz surfacing (too long to mention). In keeping with the fascination with white at this year's KBIS, Silestone was showing off White Zeus Extreme, "the whitest white hue available in quartz surfacing materials". I've been using a lot of white quartz lately, and one of the issues I have is working with whites that have different undertones. As the name belies, White Zeus Extreme is devoid of undertones ... as if Zeus himself had banished all colour from the slab (too much?). An extremely versatile colour.

Silestone also introduced their Suede finish. A number of years back, Silestone brought us Leather, their answer to honed granite. One of my showroom displays featured the Leather finish, and I can tell you from experience that it looked amazing ... provided you didn't touch it. Leather showed fingerprints, water residues, etc. I was constantly wiping it down. My suspicion is that Suede is Silestone's answer to the problems with Leather. It is a beautiful matt finish that has none of the texture that caused problems with the Leather finish. The picture doesn't do it justice; you need to see it and feel it in person.

Laminate manufacturers made a surprisingly good showing this year.  We spent the first morning of the show speaking with the people at Wilsonart about their additions to their HD series.  Wilsonart spends a lot of time on their website and promotional litersture focussing of their granite look-a-likes, and I have to admit in the high-res format their are very impressive.  But the take-away for me that morning was their butcher-block laminate.  Amazing isn't it?  And what this photo doesn't show you is the texture in the laminate.  Even up close it's tough to tell the difference.

At the other end of the spectrum from the realistic laminates of Wilsonart was the wild mid-century Anniversary Collection of Formica.  Formica is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year with some beautiful bold colours.  I have no idea where I would use this, but I couldn't pass up showing it.  I mean geometrics on Tangerine?  Yes please!

I've visited KBIS in the past and have come away informed and inspired, and with a box full of brochures and USB drives.  But as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this year my KBIS experience was quite different.  I put the blame squarley on BlogTour.

That's not to say that BlogTour did me wrong.  Different is just different, and change is good, especially for KBIS.  BlogTour has highlighted the need for our industry to embrace the social media side of the interent and to truly explore what it can do for us beyond simple promotion.  BlogTour (and other blogger junkets) have shown me the importance of using technology to connect with other designers and learn from them.

My typical KBIS experience involves taking a few courses.  This year there really wasn't time (which was too bad because KBIS has really upped its game in this area).  But I came away from this year's show feeling like I really learned a lot.  Some of that was BlogTour related, but most of it was from engaging with my fellow designers, most of whom I "knew" through social media.   Twitter doesn't have to be about telling the world you just ate a muffin.

My hope is that this trend continues.  It used to be that you would go to KBIS to see the latest product offerings from manufacturers.  The Corian and Silestone booths used to be my first stops every year, just to see the new colours.  But as more and more manufacturers come online and bombard bloggers and designers alike with new about their latest product offerings before we even get to KBIS, the WOW factor is fading more and more each year.  By embracing social media KBIS gives a new reason to come to the party.  

Party?  Yeah, KBIS 2014 is in Las Vegas!  See you there?


  1. I'm a little concerned about that "no eyes" photo of me above.... HAHAH!

  2. Of course you are. You're just lucky I've kept the pictures of you at Oak Alley hidden away!


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