Las Vegas, NV— When talking to kitchen and bath designers today about what consumers are looking for, the response is often “they want it all.” And, why shouldn’t they? Manufacturers continue to push the envelope when creating products for the home, with today’s crop offering technological advances fitting for the oft-conjured image of what the 21st century should bring.
The NextGen Home Experience “Industry Trends” demonstration home, produced by Bellevue, WA-based iShow in association with the National Kitchen and Bath Association for this year’s Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, displayed technological advances that had visitors dropping their jaws in awe. iShow went a step further, however, by not only presenting techno wonders in the space, but by promoting environmentally safe, green lifestyle designs – an element of increasing interest to today’s homeowners.
Measuring only 1,000 square feet, space was at a premium in the home, a challenge for interior designer Gioi Tran, principal, Applegate Tran in San Francisco, CA. Attention was especially paid to organization and layout to maximize the home’s usage.
To make full use of the home’s square footage, the entryway opens into a great room area. Capitalizing on the current trend of multi-purpose spaces, the great room here includes a living room, dining room and kitchen, all sharing an open design.
“In designing the kitchen, we were looking to provide efficiency in layout,” notes Tran.
It also showcases green design, he stresses. “The products and materials chosen for the kitchen were green, efficient and maximized the storage and layout.”
The popular “furniture look” was incorporated into the kitchen through the use of white poplar cabinetry from Norelco Cabinets. The flat-panel design featured a vertical grain, dark stain that resembled wenge, which provided a clean, contemporary look.
Enhancing the look were DuPont Corian solid surface countertops, and Kohler faucets and fixtures. The Simplice Pull-down Kitchen Faucet sports a transitional design and ProMotion technology with a ball joint swivel sprayhead and braided nylon hose. It was paired with Kohler’s Smart Divide kitchen sink, a double-basin style that has a low-profile divider that allows for increased sink capacity. The Wellspring Touchless kitchen faucet, a hands-free secondary faucet that provides water conservation benefits, was also situated in the room.
Technologically advanced appliances are a significant part of this kitchen. LG Electronics provided the Total Capacity Refrigerator, which is connected to the home’s Life/ware touch control system featured throughout the house. The connection allows consumers to check the status of the appliance and adjust its functions from anywhere in the house or from a remote computer.
Also connected is MyFountain, a digitally controlled beverage machine from Digital Beverages. MyFountain can mix and dispense an endless variety of dispensible products, including hot, cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, unique to each user. The dispenser can monitor how much has been dispensed, and even reorder supplies when running low. Alcoholic drinks can also be password restricted to prevent underage usage.
In keeping with the home’s style, both the master bath and guest bath feature cabinets that mimic those used in the kitchen. To give them their own identity, they are topped with DuPont Zodiaq countertops that feature the look of natural stone.
The DTV Custom Showering System from Kohler is the highlight of the guest bathroom. A digital interface controls the water temperature and multiple showerheads, hand showers and body sprays. Also featured in the room is Kohler’s C3 Toilet Seat with Bidet, a toilet seat that offers multiple cleansing systems, as well as a fan, deodorizer, heated seat and night light.
The master bath features the Purist hatbox toilet, a minimalist electric toilet with a tankless design, slow-closing seat and soft-touch flush actuator. The 5' Archer Whirlpool Bath features a removable front apron and a Universal Design element – a 19" step-over height and narrow front threshold, which makes it easier to exit and enter the bath.
But the home’s true connection with futuristic elements is through Life/ware and the connectivity it supplies, offered by Exceptional Innovation. The home is fully digital using Life/ware 2.0, a digital entertainment and automation solution that expands a homeowner’s ability to manage subsystems and appliances through Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center. By simply integrating Life/ware into Media Center, user’s can access their entire music collection, or set up a slideshow of digital photos. Homeowner’s can also schedule and record television programs, call up home videos and watch DVDs. Life/ware gives homeowners the power to control a home’s lighting, thermostat and security systems, distribute music throughout the house and display personal Life/scenes. Life/ware works via a television with a Media Center personal computer, Media Center Extender or Xbox 360, from a home or office personal computer or computer notebook.
Remote and touch panels featured on the walls in every room in the home are connected via Life/ware to every electrical element in the home, including appliances, electronics, even items such as window shades and lighting. Each of these items can be controlled from the personal computing stations or the touchscreens, and even from a remote location. From music to movies, to security and lighting, to setting the timer on the kitchen stove – everything can be controlled from a touchscreen.
According to Tran and associates from Exceptional Innovation, homeowners can check the weather while putting on makeup, see who is at the door while watching television, or wake up the kids but turning on the lights and pulling up the shades while cooking breakfast at the range in the kitchen.
“Consumers want convenience and want everything to be compatible,” notes Tran. “They want to be able to use one remote to control everything, and with this system, they have that.”
“Everything in the home is connected and can be operated from a computer or touchscreen,” asserts Mike Seamons, vice president of marketing, Life/ware from Exceptional Innovations. “Everything can communicate wirelessly.”
To everyone’s delight, the seemingly futuristic system is no longer inaccessible.
“What you’re seeing in the NextGen home are not concepts,” he continues. “These are things that you can implement in your home today.”
And that’s what consumers today want to hear.
(Be sure to log onto KitchenBathDesign.com for Kitchen & Bath Design News’ coverage of the 2007 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference (K/BIS) in Las Vegas. Log onto the home page to visit the Live Events, Top Headlines, Project Spotlight and Consumer Resources sections, and Product Gallery. And don’t forget to sign up for our eNewsletters that will cover other upcoming industry shows.)