Back to the Future

Kitchen and bath designers eager to find the products that will be impacting the future need only check the recent past. After all, the convenience, style and luxury that are the hallmarks of KBDN’s most in-demand products for ’05 clearly reflect the needs and wants of today’s – and, undoubtedly, tomorrow’s – consumers.

As in years past, Kitchen & Bath Design News’ most-asked-about products list is compiled by tallying reader requests for information about specific products featured in KBDN over the course of the year. This year, 3,015 separate reader requests are represented by the top 20 products – a key indication of the industry’s continued interest in innovative and stylish products.

In fact, the most-asked-about products of 2005 appear to embrace all things new and clever, with many of the products offering the sense of personalization that clients crave – ranging from glass towel warmers, jewelry cabinets and corbel collections to drawer dishwashers.

So, whether a product features unique, mouth-blown glass, intricate carvings or brushed finishes, this year’s most-asked-about products showcase consumers’ ever-growing desire for more efficient spaces ­that still offer enough panache to express their individuality.

This is particularly evident this year with the nine decorative hardware products that made their way onto the top 20 list, again reinforcing the allure of sophisticated and timeless pieces that serve as “jewelry for the home.” In fact, hardware made a strong overall showing, holding down an impressive 12 of 20 spots.

Even more prominent is the growing trend toward performance and efficiency, as evidenced by slide-out base units, jewelry cabinets and space-saving corner cabinets that secured four spots within the top 10. Indeed, the strong interest in these products further reflects the call for designs that are more streamlined – yet still statement-making – in the kitchen and bath.

For the more discriminating, fashion-conscious client, concepts such as illuminated showerheads (which feature water-colored light and cut crystals), or curvy, translucent shower units, offer a glimpse toward the future while still retaining the personal, in-home spa environment.

Ultimately, the qualities that all of these products share highlight exactly what today’s kitchen and bath designer needs to satisfy an ever-evolving and savvy consumer: convenience, efficiency and luxury combined in a personalized space that can serve as a retreat after a long day, or be showcased when entertaining family and friends.

Kitchen & Bath Design News takes a look at the most-asked-about products of 2005, as decided by you, our readers.

Corner Cabinets
1. The desire for more efficient space was a clear cut trend in 2005. In fact, Blum, Inc.’s Space Corner corner cabinet, which provides fully extended drawers, was KBDN’s most-asked-about product for 2005, according to readers. It features full-extension Tandem drawer runners, which add full access to interiors.

Wolfgang Branner, v.p./marketing for the Stanley, NC-based company, explains its popularity: “The corner has always been off-limits, but now we can fill the corners with drawers that are fully accessible and ergonomic. The idea is to let the contents come to you and not the other way around,” he notes.

Drawer Inserts
2. Karl Kothmaier, business manager of the Lazy Daisy product line for Kernersville, NC-based Peter Meier, Inc. (PMI), believes custom storage applications are a key niche in the industry – and KBDN readers agree.

In fact, the company’s Lazy Daisy Wood Drawer Inserts took the number two spot for 2005 according to reader requests.

The Drawer Inserts can be adjusted to create customized drawer organization. Cutlery inserts are available for 15" and 21" cabinets.

As for future applications Kothmaier states: “We will begin to see different types of inserts, [particularly] for spice organization, accessories or utilities.”

Translucent Shower Units
3. Tapping into clients’ desires for a personal retreat, Clarke’s Iridess Collection of curved, translucent showers are built with glass-free walls and mirror-like, non-porous surfaces for easy maintenance.

Don Clarke, president of the Dallas, TX-based company, offers: “We have learned that people prefer doorless entry showers, and the movement is clearly toward larger showers.”

Offered in 14 colors, the collection includes the Nautilus, a spiral-chambered enclosure with walls that diffuse light and space for toweling off.

Clarke concludes: “We are finding that people are definitely responding to curved shapes more than linear ones.”

Knobs and Pulls
4. For Harvey Weinberg, owner/partner for New York, NY-based North River Mint, products that offer a sense of antiquity appeal to customers’ needs for comfort.

“I think the look gives people a feeling that the product is durable and will last forever,” he says. “They just like the idea that it has been around and survived time.”

Therefore, North River Mint’s NRM collection of “wire look” knobs and pulls include items depicting the outdoor shop signs of 11th century Japan. Included is a knob homage to the Samurai warrior’s sword hilt wrapping device.

Knob Collection
5. Strong reader response to emenee’s Sea Life knobs proves how key self-expression is to the home, says company sales manager Barbara Briskin.

“People are spending less on themselves and more money accessorizing their homes,” she explains. “It truly is like jewelry for the home.”

Available in an array of designs and colors, the collection ties into the growing transitional themes as well, she adds.

“It can be changed once or twice a year, [and offers flexibility because] one style does not have to be a permanent fixture in the home,” she says.

Slide-Out Base Unit
6. Keen to the needs of consumers and cabinet manufacturers, Knape & Vogt Mfg. Co. offers its Slide-Out Base Blind Corner Unit – a tiered storage unit with four shelves that can be configured to fit a variety of corner cabinet applications.

Dan Pickett, v.p./home and commercial products for the Grand Rapids, MI-based company, believes he knows why it has received such a favorable response. “Consumers want efficient storage with their cabinets. These products make space more useful and bring everything outside the cabinet, as they bring ergonomics into the kitchen,” he remarks.

Jewelry Cabinet
7. According to Craig Myers, owner of Colby, KS-based Mingo Custom Woods, the company’s Jewelry Closet Cabinets were created for one purpose: To simplify lives.

“People are too busy these days and don’t have time to look around and hunt for things,” he explains. “It also doesn’t take up a lot of space – they can go behind the door or in the closet.”

Designed to organize jewelry behind a full-length mirror, the 14¼"Wx48"Lx4"D Jewelry Closet Cabinets can be mounted in bedrooms, bathrooms, closets and other locations. The cabinets are made of solid woods in recessed or surface-mounted models. Oak, cherry, maple and paint-grade versions are available.

“People tell us often that they wear their jewelry better because they can see it all at a quick glance,” he conludes.

Glass Knobs
8. Ask Martin Megna, owner of Sag Harbor, NY-based Megna Hot Glass Studio, and he will tell you there is no better finishing touch than glass.

“It is a way to bring functional art into the kitchen,” he explains. “The goal is to create something that is going to comfortably fit both the modern and traditional styles, and encapsulate the concept of designing for both.” Therefore, his company offers a variety of architectural hardware and lighting products made mainly from mouth-blown glass. The product offering also includes door and cabinet knobs in a standard range of 35 colors.

Citing the possibilities of glass knobs and pulls, Megna quickly adds: “It is only limited to the artist that is creating the knob.”

Drawer Inserts
9. For Philip Martin, director of marketing for Archdale, NC-based Hafele America Co., the popularity of the company’s wooden drawer inserts signifies a rapid movement toward performance – and personalization.

“It has to do with flexibility. The product also looks customized once it is trimmed down, so consumers feel they are getting something customized [for their needs].”

Constructed of solid beech, the drawer inserts are offered in a variety of options, including standard-sized cutlery trays, a cutlery tray with knife block, a free-standing knife block, an open tray set with a container holder and spice canisters, and a stand-alone open tray.

Decorative Handles
10. For Terry Babij, v.p./sales and marketing for Buffalo, NY-based Berenson Corp., the company’s Sonata Suite of handles and knobs fits perfectly into the eclectic, transitional styles so popular today.

“The entire room has become the palette, and you can now pick other things in the room to match,” he says.

“We are also seeing people look to the earth tones, such as the bronzes, as well as the oil-rubbed bronzes and brushed finishes,” he adds.

The Sonata Suite comes in finishes that include brushed nickel, rustic brushed brass, rustic iron, rustic nickel, rustic black nickel and rustic copper.

Illuminated Showerhead
11. Fashion-oriented clients need not look any further than Ondine’s Krystal ELS showerhead, says Robert Larson, Ondine’s v.p./professional markets.

“The shower is a fashion category that is meant as a retreat,” he says.

With STRASS Swarovski crystal and Ondine’s Electronic Light Shower (ELS), the Krystal ELS mixes water-colored light and cut crystal.

“There will be more investment by clients on themselves, and it will continue to manifest itself in the bathroom,” he concludes.

Corbel Collection
12. (tie) A complete line of hand-carved corbels, appliqués, mouldings and valences is available from National Products Co. The products are offered in Red Oak, Hard Maple and Cherry. The company offers three distinctive collections, meant to create design flexibility.

Decorative Hardware
12. (tie) The Kelmscott Manor collection is the first in a series of four exclusive hardware designs from Schaub & Co. Available finishes include Antique Bronze, Antique Iron, Auburn Bronze, Dark Bronze and Flat Black, notes the company.

Coffee System
12. (tie) DACOR’s built-in Coffee System dispenses espresso or cappuccino, as well as hot water for tea or chocolate, all at the touch of a button, the company reports. An optional plumbed unit allows for consistent coffee brewing, while a milk dispenser is integrated into the unit, according to the company. The Coffee System also accepts taller coffee cups, including most travel mugs.

Glass Towel Warmers
12. (tie) The Thermique towel warmer from Engineered Glass Products/e(g)p features glass that heats up, is warm to the touch and easy to clean, the firm points out. The glass can also be customized with personal designs such as a monogram. The Thermique hot glass technology is also being developed for a number of other applications, such as warming shelves and burners for high-end ranges, according to the company.

Security System
13. The Video Door Answering System from NuTone/Broan-NuTone, LLC is designed to offer security, communication and entertainment in a single unit, notes the company. The drop-down system features a 7" monitor and supports two recessed or surface-mount cameras for monitoring both the front and back doors. The built-in system also features a 4" color monitor for hands-free door communication with one recessed or surface-mount camera, allowing the user to monitor one specific door. This system may be coupled with an optional remote wall-mount to allow communication among the monitor, the handset and one exterior camera.

Drawer Dishwashers
14. KitchenAid Drawer Dishwashers have two pull-out, undercounter drawers designed to help wash smaller loads using less water and power, wash dishes in one drawer while temporarily storing clean dishes in the other or wash dishes separately in kosher kitchens. The dishwashers also feature Whisper Quiet Ultima technology and soundproofing for quiet performance, the company notes.

Hardware Collection
15. Alno, Inc. features an assortment of shapes, styles and finishes for its decorative hardware offerings in its Creations line. Included as part of the line are two new series – Contemporary I and II – which offer a range of soft curves and sleek edges that work with today’s contemporary designs, the firm notes.

Radiant Floor Heating
16. The FlorHeat Co.’s EasyFloor is a snap-together, in-floor radiant heating system that can be made to fit any room, according to the company.

Appliance Pulls
17. Premier Hardware Designs, Inc. has a line of 12" c.c. appliance pulls in solid pewter among its various hardware offerings, which are all available in finishes such as natural pewter, nickel, rust and oil-rubbed bronze, the company points out.

Decorative Hardware
18. Classic Hardware offers a line of antique reproduction decorative hardware manufactured by Bossetti-Marella in Italy. Included among the company’s period hardware offerings are the Bosetti Marella Classic Hardware Antique Rust Knob, the Bosetti Marella Classic Hardware Antique Rust Ring Pull, and the Bosettie Marella Classic Hardware Antique Rust Pendant Pull, according to the company.

Knobs and Pulls
19. Century Hardware offers its Orchid Collection of handles and knobs, which is cast in zinc and comes in six finishes: brushed black nickel, satin nickel, gun metal, antique copper, antique pewter and brushed antique brass. Among the Orchid Collection offerings are the Orchid 1-5/8" Oval Knob in Brushed Black Nickel, and the Orchid 3-3/4" Center Pull (96mm) in Brushed Antique Copper, the company notes.

Fireclay Sinks
20. Franke has joined with Villeroy & Boch to produce its stainless steel sink designs in fireclay. Fired at 2200 degrees, Villeroy & Boch’s fireclay offers an extremely hard surface that is virtually scratch resistant, according to the companies. The CeramicPlus finish is ultra-smooth, with a dirt-repellent surface that it also hygienic, the firms add. Franke designs in fireclay include the contemporary Vision design and two models from the Prestige line.