WELL, that was M A S S I V E to say the least! My venture out to KBIS (Kitchen & Bath Industry Show) in Las Vegas last week to learn whatever I could about Kitchen Design definitely embarked on a complete sensory overload experience LOL.
In addition to it being my very first visit to Las Vegas (and potentially my last… not sure Vegas is my kind of town), the Convention Center held approximately 600 businesses, at least half of whom were specifically geared towards the Kitchen / Bath industries. Whew! And I walked ALL OF IT. Multiple times. Between walking the show floor and the rest of Las Vegas, my back and feet are deeply hating me right now. I’m going to say massive conventions are officially a young persons game hahaha.
First impressions?I definitely got the most out of the KBIS talks, which I don’t believe would have been available online or anywhere else, so that inspiration and information was pretty much the most valuable part of being physically present AT the conference.
The other was a first impression of a Brand that I may or may not have had face-to-face time with as of yet. It costs a TON of money to show at these events. Your best foot, as a result, would be forward, no?!!!
Seeing various “company cultures” put forward was fairly telling. There were a few high-end appliance brands that I was unfamiliar with but had wanted to get to know. However, walking THROUGH THE MIDDLE of their (not even busy) booth where they all huddled and talked to no one but themselves off to the sides said volumes of the culture of their company. They got a big “X” on my map. I’m thinking if I were to specify their products, is this the kind of service I would receive? Probably. If something goes wrong, would they suddenly pay attention to me, a Client or Clients representative? Extremely unlikely. Done.
On the other hand, brands that clearly had a system of greeting, scanning, directing, informing – it makes me genuinely believe they would take the same care throughout the inquiry, purchase, service of their products. Time will tell, but first impressions can be lasting…
My first question to the vendors was always “What is NEW and exciting?”. I’m already familiar in general – although I’m just beginning to specialize in Kitchens, I’ve been in Architecture for a few decades (cough) – but I want to learn MORE or want to hear about the directions they’re going this year, or where their company’s focus is. Don’t have a new product or technology? That’s fine – no one can or should be ground breaking every single year. But tell me what new or exiting directions your company is going in so I stay interested and want to follow your journey. If nothing is NEW, my second question was – talk to me about what specifically makes your company/product/brand stand out in the masses here? Some had answers, most did not.
The third conversation I often had with a booth that would give me the time (without an appointment) was a problem I had or had seen in design. I get that most people on the floor don’t have power to make change – or do they? Again, it speaks to their company culture. Does a part-time sales employee have a direct line of connection to bring problems/solutions to people who CAN solve them? I think if I go back I need to make appointments to have these bigger conversations with the right people, but these were my first impressions anyhow.
Three (and a half lol) problems I spoke with many brands about were >
Q: What happens to the flat stove-top surfaces or elements on the counter (How do you even CLEAN these?) when a pot boils over?
A: (very matter of factly) Oh, don’t worry – it goes on the floor.
WHERE MY FEET ARE? Do you KNOW how painful 3rd degree burns are?! WTF? When a company says “yeah, well, that’s how it’s done”, I know this company is not a problem solver, and we’ll have a very short future together as designer-brand. To a few, I offered a solution (just have the countertop divet around the stove top, like the ‘moat’ on a meat cutting board that catches all the drippings), almost none seemed to care about the problem, much less any solution (except Richelieu who totally got into the conversation as we started problem-solving together with their fully moldable countertop surfaces – awesome job, Richelieu!).
Which makes me think – if this is a problem for just about everyone with these new element-on-the-counter or induction stovetops, wouldn’t you want to be the spearheading company to solve it?
One appliance company said the water will evaporate on the surface of an induction top before it gets on my feet, so there’s a bit of homework to be done on my part there… Most started questioning what the hell kind of cook I was that my pots were always boiling over. Rude, but also fair, considering I’ve only just healed from painful 3rd degree burns myself haha.
Q: What happens to all the bits off the slabs once the clean cuts are done?
A: I don’t know / don’t really care – it’s a fabricator problem.
WHY don’t you care? How much volume of this is going into landfill? Don’t you want to be the brand that solves the problem? I mentioned to one that I’ve been planning for months now to use the fabricators offcuts to seal together Kinstsugi style for my own countertops this year, and although Cosentino found this interesting, that was about it. Caesarstone didn’t care to problem solve as they were too focused on their warranty being voided. Cambria and a few others have already started looking into this problem with recycled and repurposed products (not yet on their website) – Well done. I can’t wait to work with you!
Q: Do you have a DEEP freezer/refrigerator?
A: Nope. <insert blank expression here>
Fisher and Paykel‘s people, however, did try to come up with alternate solutions and I ended up loving their 5-in-1 freezer drawer (if you can’t go deep, go low?) as a potential option in my Kitchen.
Generally my oft-designed 30″ counter depths were constantly met with blank stares LOL. I kept patiently informing salesmen I won’t be going back to 24” counter depths if I can help it, so … keep up, people. I’ve moved on and have no plans to give up that extra, beautiful counter space depth!
Q: I didn’t even know I had these questions / problems.
A: RICHELIEU – don’t worry, we’ve already solved them all. BOOM.
.What a creative company that seems genuinely out there to SOLVE all your/my kitchen problems. Love it.
Special note to the company – Task Lighting & Power – that saw me looking inquisitively from the aisle and pulled me in, answered all my Q’s and gave me all the info online (so I didn’t have to carry huge bags of crap) – well done!
Anyhow, those were the first impressions – more to come on special products, and notes from the talks!