I started writing this on the first day of KBIS, before unforeseeable tech issues forced the postponement of the show. It was a snowy day in New York, and all I could think was that I should be in sunny Orlando, seeing industry friends and checking out all the latest products. Instead, I was parked on my couch with bunny slippers on, and while they were the best and most comfortable “show shoes” I’d ever worn, it just wasn’t the same.
I missed the people, I missed touching and feeling the products, I even missed the big pretzel I’d normally grab for lunch because it’s usually the only place with no lines, and who has time for lunch anyway when there’s so much to see?
I was expecting this show to be tough, filled with yet more reminders of a pandemic that already colors every aspect of our lives. But while it ended up being tough for other reasons, on that first day, it was pretty wonderful. It was delightful to see a wealth of new products designed to make people’s lives better, safer, more efficient and more joyful.
I think the last is particularly relevant. On a daily basis, we encounter constant references to the impact of the COVID-19; even in typical “escapes” like TV or sports, the masked actors, pandemic-heavy stories and empty stadiums remind us that life is fragile and danger is everywhere.
But at KBIS, there were products designed to bring joy. Cabinetry in vibrant colors, countertops with rich patterns that you’d want to reach out touch (even through a screen!), showerheads that not only play music, they’re tuned specifically for the shower to maximize sound quality, and lighting systems that can switch from romantic to bright daylight ambiances at the flick of a switch.
And color and light were everywhere! Looking at the plethora of new products, it was impossible not to be excited by all the aesthetic possibilities.
Beauty evinces joy, whether in a painting, a landscape, an artfully designed space, the sparkling flow of water captured by light or the contrast of colors, shapes and textures that speaks to our senses and uplifts our spirits.
And beauty is something the world needs right now – in the worst possible way.
That’s not to minimize the value that so many products bring to the table in terms of functionality, time savings, hygiene benefits, ease of maintenance, safety and more. Design is, after all, a multifaceted mixing of form and function, creativity and practicality. Technology continues to surge, and products with added accessibility and sanitary benefits will continue to improve safety and comfort for homeowners.
But right now, today, in a world that is in desperate need of joy, kitchen and bath manufacturers have delivered. Yes, technical difficulties may have made it impossible to see all those fabulous new products during after the first day of KBIS (and KB Designers Network is hard at work putting together a Guide to KBIS products to help designers get a ‘first look’ at some of the newest offerings until the show can be rescheduled and people can go back to take a closer (virtual) look at all that’s being launched for 2021).
But the wonderful new products, the joy-bringing products…they’re there and, when mixed with designers’ creativity and vision, those new products will make the world a bit more beautiful, whether by creating restful, soothing escapes, colorful havens for families to gather or light- and energy filled work/living spaces.
Despite all the challenges that pandemic has thrown our way, there is much to be excited about for 2021!