Saturday, February 15, 2014

KBIS 2014 Roundup - Plumbing

The strongest impression left from my very first KBIS was of my first sighting of the Kohler booth.  Kohler easily has the largest and most impressive booth at the show year after year, and its presence is a constant reminder of the importance of the plumbing industry in our business.  Not only does plumbing have serious economic influence, I'd venture to say that no other segment has a broader spectrum in terms of design and aesthetics.

Here are some of the more interesting items I saw in the plumbing category

Swanstone is a regular participant at KBIS, but they typically don' do anything quite this "out there".  Congrats to them for trying something a little different with their solid surface material.

Swiss plumbing manufacturer Laufen was one of the few European firms at the show, which is a real shame in my opinion.  Granted, they have 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.  Whether it's with other designers or other firms, there's always some way to benefit from a partnership.  The above items are the "Tuna" basin (left) and toilet (right) from Laufen's IlBagnoAlessi line, 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.  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).

Native Trails also introduced NativeStone, a concrete and jute mixtures than creates the "concrete" look without the weight normally associated with concrete.  This Trough vanity sink was extremely popular at the show.

Brizo is a design favourite of mine, and for 2014 they managed to deliver yet again.  On the left is their new Sotria line.  The triangular motif in the spout and the handles is quite unusual in plumbing fixtures, but what really struck me was the use of a matte black finish.  On the right is Brizo's answer to the popularity of "Mid-Century-Modern" in the kitchen world.  Artesso will be available in various formats, including a very retro looking bridge faucet.  More on that once they're available.

What do you think?  Is the plumbing industry in North America making advances, or are the Europeans leaving us behind?  Is there anything that is missing, or anything you saw at KBIS (or Eurocucina when it arrives!) that struck you as exceptional?  As always, I welcome your comments below.


  1. If_the_Lamp_Shade_FitsFebruary 17, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    Thanks for the tip on NativeStone! I'm going to check it out at a local showroom.

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