By K&A Staff

Last week, the K&A team escaped the frozen tundra, and headed to sunny Orlando, Florida to trend-spot at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and the International Builders’ Show.  During the three-day event, manufacturers debuted their most innovative products to audiences from around the globe.  The K&A team hunted down the most important channel opportunities at Design & Construction Week, and observed the emergence of three major industry trends.

Homes of the Future

The digital era is upon us; not only do we walk around with miniature computers and televisions in our pockets, but now our homes can be fully equipped with futuristic inventions we thought only possible while watching the Jetsons.  Take Virginia Tech’s FutureHAUS prototype for example, which returned to the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show for its second year, and introduced a bevy of new innovations.  According to Virginia Tech, FutureHAUS is a research project that explores a new and more efficient approach to the way we construct buildings. The prototype introduced a master bedroom and flex-space that can be used as an office or closet by simply moving the wall divider to accommodate different activities.

Virginia Tech Center for Design Research

The multipurpose/closet space is flush with space-age technology; one such invention includes a smart-closet system that links to RFID chips in user’s clothing, locates the items, and displays them on the unit’s smart-mirror. The Virginia Tech team’s objective is to allow the end-user the opportunity to live in a user-friendly, accessible, adaptable, and sustainable environment.

Freestanding Kitchen Furniture

Accessibility, adaptability, and high-design are three of the most important factors in homes today.  Homeowners no longer want to be confined to a single space to prep meals and entertain guests.  Enter the ASA-D2 and The Galley Dresser; two unique and free-standing kitchen workstations that bring high-style furniture to both indoor and outdoor spaces.


The ASA-D2, a collaboration between Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, Cosentino, and designer Daniel Germani, was designed to act as a stunning piece of outdoor furniture equipped with kitchen capabilities.  The ASA-D2, arguably one of the most avant-garde outdoor kitchens on the market, was the answer to homeowners’ demand for a free-standing, smart, and stylish kitchen station. The piece comes furnished with a Caliber grill and utilizes ultra-durable materials including Dekton by Cosentino countertops and Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens’ powder coated stainless steel cabinetry.  Germani noted that his clients were seeking kitchen spaces that felt like an extention of the home; highly-functional, yet highly-stylized.

The Galley Dresser

The award-winning Galley Dresser is a fully-integrated kitchen workstation and piece of furniture purposefully designed to work in harmony with Galley Workstations.  Designer Doug Durbin strived to “thoughtfully stitch together the ultimate in kitchen function with contempt for the ordinary in kitchen furniture.”  Much like the ASA-D2, the Galley Dresser was designed to break the typical kitchen mold.  While the free-standing dresser is exclusively used for indoor kitchens, it’s exceptional design transforms any ordinary kitchen space into a multi-functioning living area.

Skilled Labor Shortage

One of the hottest topics of discussion around the convention center highlighted the skilled labor shortage in today’s market.  Builders, architects and contractors stressed the importance of finding and training young professionals when the more experienced labor force is stagnant in the construction market.  To help address the issue, the NAHB, NARI, NKBA, and SGC Horizon joined forces to launch the Skilled Labor Fund. Tony Mancini of SGC Horizon described the labor shortage as “the most critical headwind and problem in our industry today.” The fund has been estimated to reach in excess of $5 million, and will be used to fund scholarships and trade education for young professionals.

Skilled Labor Fund

While the fund is certain to increase the number of skilled laborers in the market, manufacturers like SharkBite® are answering the needs of the market now.  During the International Builders’ Show, SharkBite® announced the EvoPEX™ system.  This revolutionary push-to-connect plumbing system for new construction is designed for use without the need for special tools, soldering, crimping or glue.  The simple push-to-connect fitting features a green-colored visual indicator to ensure that the fitting is properly connected, which provides assurance that the pipe seal has been permanently engaged, and instantly minimizes the risk of installation errors. The ease of installation for the system allows workers to complete jobs faster, more-efficiently, with fewer errors, thus increasing productivity throughout the entire building process.

SharkBite® launched the EvoPEX™ plumbing system with easy push-to-connect fitting