Since my return home from the International Home & Housewares Show(IHHS), I have been busy sorting through the press materials, following up with people I chatted with and just generally enjoying the afterglow.
So many thoughts are flooding through my mind, things like who’s product surprised or excited me the most? Who should I write about first? What were the trends I noticed that weren’t organizational “talking points”?
The IHHS highlights were not always product related as I take joy in simply being around so many passionate inventors and designers. Participating in this celebration of creativity is in and of itself invigorating and being a part of a panel that awarded people for their hard work added to this feeling.
I find that my highlights result from interaction with companies who exude a contagious enthusiasm for what they do. These are typically smaller companies not insulated by “product presenters” who have no stake in the enterprise.
Which leads me to my show surprises…
– I was surprised by an instant filtered individual water bottle that takes being green to new levels. In fact, I think their product goes to the head of the line in that segment. Gobie will be one of the first I write about and I feel you will also be impressed by them when you hear all the details.
– A so called celebrity chef renewed my faith by launching a kitchen product line that was thoughtful and more than just an endorsement. Curtis Stone, the Aussie hunk, actually designed cookware and then went looking for someone to manufacture it. There are more than a few clever features in these products.
– I found myself looking at a new electric knife sharpener and thinking that this segment has a new leader. Why surprised? Because most companies really don’t change the game as much as they tweak it. Smith’s Edgeware has jumped to the head of the line with an adjustable angle sharpener that comes in both electric and manual versions.
– Not a person who normally likes appliances that do what I can do manually, I admired an electric pizza maker. TnT Pizza Perfector is a compact device that creates pizza with a crispy crust and properly cooked toppings in no time at all.
– Bunn has launched a coffee brewer that will give even the most geeked out coffee nerd control over the subtle terroir flavor components of their prized single estate coffees.
– Probably the best immersion blender at the show is made by a company you have never heard of or seen on a local shop shelf. Miallegro doesn’t make appliances for every task in the kitchen, but this stick blender is quite simply the most versatile, feature rich model you will find.
Of the IHHS trends that were most obvious, color seemed to be exploding in every kitchen and culinary segment. I had read in the Ambiente show kitchen summary that companies were trying to bring color to a wider area of products but I had no idea how broad that spectrum would be. It will still be interesting to see if the consumer embraces this color diversity, but truly every appliance and tool was available in colors like never before.
I also noticed a lot of pressure cookers for sale from every corner of event hall. I am not a fan of pressure cooking personally but it seems that the manufacturers have sensed a renewed interest by the consumer. Technology has made the cookers themselves safer and more consistent than ever before. Sure names like Kuhn Rikon, Fissler and Fagor have been offering quality pressure cookers to the public for a long time, but more and more appliance manufacturers are getting into the game. Again, the question is whether the North American public will embrace this diversity and choice.
In an area that isn’t exactly a new trend, there were a myriad of companies making quality slow juicers. Slow juicers as you are probably aware are also known as masticating juicers. The most popular new shape or style is the vertical slow juicer, popular because of its smaller foot print.
More companies are also making home carbonation systems in a variety of styles and shapes. I think this trend is a result of companies being tired of seeing Soda Stream run away with the segment. With no copyright issues in play, it is simply a matter of bringing something different to the public.
Closing IHHS Thoughts
It is still early in the year and while some of the products I saw are already arriving on shelves, others may not be available for purchase until the holiday season. You will see that some companies made subtle changes to products that were the result of consumer feedback or company introspection, while yet others went back to the drawing board in an attempt to change the market. I will now turn my attention to writing about and highlighting the companies I visited so that hopefully you can come to know and appreciate them as much as I do.