Last week, nearly 70,000 industry professionals flocked to Las Vegas for the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS). After hitting the expo floors and speaking with exhibitors, I observed five themes:
- Throwbacks and Celebrations
- Pops of Color
- Stealthy Styling: Transformational to Invisible
- Health and Sustainability
- Electric Powered
Throwbacks and Celebrations
As if exhibitors didn’t already go all out for IBS / KBIS, some had an extra reason to celebrate.
A few exhibitors were celebrating decades of business—Kohler, for one, celebrated their 150th anniversary by reintroducing two heritage colors from the 1900s. After over 100,000 people voted on their favorite color, Spring Green (1927–1944) and Peachblow (1934–1973) will be making their way back into kitchens and baths for a limited time. Sherwin Williams, while not celebrating an anniversary, celebrated trending colors for 2023. Their “Lore” color palette takes inspiration from historic artisan colors that “bind us together in a community of makers that spans centuries and crosses cultures1.”
Pops of Color
Kitchen and bath products showed off their colorful sides with bold finishes.
While our research indicates that consumers tend to err on the safe side when it comes to big investments in the kitchen and bath, we cannot discount the desire for personalization and character. Brands like House of Rohl’s Victoria + Albert and Ruvati made a splash with multiple colorful products. Brands like Café and Monogram brought the drama with rich color and moody displays. Do we expect to see these hitting every home? No, especially when it comes to features that are more expensive to replace, like appliances and fixtures. Could they have traction in remodels, custom homes, and select design centers? Absolutely.
Stealthy Styling: Transformational to Invisible
Our homes and appliances are going the extra mile to flex and fly under the radar.
When it comes to making homes work harder without sacrificing space or style, I saw everything. Movable walls that could expand and transform a small space. Bookcases that opened to hidden rooms, reminiscent of classic mystery movies (yes, one bookcase actually opened by tipping a book). Meanwhile, you couldn’t make it through much of the KBIS floor without seeing panel ready appliances that blended in with cabinetry for a seamless “invisible” kitchen.
Health and Sustainability
Whether as a core value or subtle marketing message, brands are integrating health and sustainability.
Embracing the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) movement, several brands proudly showcased their sustainable efforts. James Hardie, for example, dedicated several walls showing their accomplishments in reducing waste and sourcing locally. Others educated attendees on how their products positively impact the environment. On the health side, I saw both physical and mental wellbeing prioritized, from Kohler’s new wellness brand, Sprig, which introduces aromatherapy and skincare to bathroom routines, to Delta’s Lumicoat™ finish that prevents build up and makes cleaning easier.
Electric energy management systems ruled IBS’s Technology Innovation Pavilion.
I saw the shift to electric with hybrid and all-electric cars, then induction stoves, and now home energy management systems. Several brands, like Span and Schneider Electric, featured displays of their smart electric panels and demonstrations of how their apps let you track energy usage for every room and device, even going as far as telling you when your fridge is using an unusually high amount of energy. A small percentage of builders are on the all-electric bandwagon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these systems become the new standard in the near future. They not only align with environmental movements and new local and state guidelines, but can also help reduce utility bills and store energy in case the power goes out.
If you’d like to learn more about our takeaways from IBS and KBIS 2023, reach out to Anja Seng.
1 Sherwin-Williams.com: https://www.sherwin-williams.com/content/colorforecast/colormix-2023/lore