K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Technology

Jul 31 2017

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Cracking the Technology Myth


One of the most difficult tasks a designer faces is convincing their client to invest in something with which they may not be familiar. Often that challenge comes when it comes to technology, and unless the client is a tech-savvy millennial, they are often skeptical of why a smart home would be worthwhile.

This past week the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) presented a webinar entitled, “Smart Technology in the Kitchen and Bath,” which was moderated by John Morgan, a past president for the NKBA. The webinar focused on developing comfort in discussing smart technology, understanding the smart-home concept and identifying ways to incorporate smart-tech solutions.

One of the key points the panel discussed were the beliefs clients tend to have when it comes to smart home technology. These “myths” include:

•    It is not necessary.
•    It will break the budget.
•    Current technology will become obsolete as new technology evolves.
•    Technology breaks easily and requires more maintenance.
•    Technology is only a luxury.

The panel also agreed that many designers shy away from offering technology because it sounds complicated. However, bringing that discussion to the table early with a client can truly pay out. Before the walls are put up, find out how your client might save time and energy with smart-home solutions.

Today’s solutions are often linked to apps, which all ages can easily use and relate to, without a user manual or learning curve. These apps and other communicative technology can control everything from lighting to heating and cooling and security systems in a home. A client can have a more secure peace of mind knowing who has entered and left their house remotely and whether any appliances were accidentally left on. They can more easily focus on entertaining their guests by checking on meals from their phone. It is more than convenience; it is also ideal for today’s multitasking society.

Resale value is another selling point. While consumers will probably always consider the way a house looks first, the advantage of smart technology can make the difference in how fast a home sells. In addition, new home builds often are being specced with the wiring for smart technology, so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and include it in a redesign.

Despite the fears both designers and clients might have about smart-home technology, it is coming into our homes no matter what. During this tech boom, however, designers can get ahead by educating themselves. Be sure to attend CEDIA, the smart home industry show, which is taking place September 5-9 in San Diego. We will continue to cover CEDIA and the connected home, so stay tuned – our homes are about to be a part of the future.

Apr 21 2017

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Delta Faucet Event Unveils New Products

KBB was recently invited to attend a press event at Delta Faucet Co.’s new Manoogian Center, a $15,000-million addition to the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis that celebrates its founder, Alex Manoogian.

We were given a look behind the scenes to see where the inspiration for the company’s designs originates, how they test packaging to ensure the products are getting to their customers safe and sound, how they incorporate new technology into their collections and how they test products for various certifications.

“We think faucets are of the utmost importance,” said Brian Noble, senior director, Brizo and marketing services. “After all, people interact with them multiple times a day.”

The Model Shop in the Innovation/Research Lab on the lower level

In terms of inspiration, Judd Lord, senior director of industrial design, and his team do a lot of traveling to national and international events to study various trends, including furniture and even automotive.

“We want to get out there and activate our senses,” he explained, adding that the creation of entire collections from start to finish takes anywhere from 18 months to two years.

My personal favorite was the RSVP Collection – a very literal, elegant take on the female figure.

Regarding new technology, it is helpful to keep looking forward to determine future needs.

“I started working on our H2O Kinetic technology in 2001 because I knew water regulations and the green movement were coming,” said Paul Patton, senior R&D/regulatory manager. “It’s important to pay attention to regulations coming down the road.”

What’s New for Delta and Brizo

Whereas research points to aesthetics being first on consumers’ lists of requirements, function/performance is following along closely. Brizo takes both seriously with its fashion-forward approach, as well as tech elements that include an electronic proportioning valve offered in some of its collections.

The Litze Bathroom Collection was introduced at KBIS 2016, and now the brand offers the Litze Kitchen Collection (above), which will be available later this year. It is available with three different spout options, two choices of handles and five finishes. When asked during KBIS 2017, attendees were most enamored with the black and gold split-finish option.

Brizo is also introducing the Vettis Bath Collection (above), which was inspired by the Vettisfossen waterfall in Norway, and both brands have created new display systems to elevate their products in the showroom setting (Delta below left, Brizo below right).

Mar 10 2017

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Times Are Changing in the Kitchen and Bath Industry

It’s striking to me how much has changed in the kitchen and bath industry over the past 10 years.

There have been many changes in communication, product sourcing, smart technology and consumer awareness, and they can all be traced back to the release of the first iPhone in 2007. Smartphones have changed the ways we communicate, shop and learn, and they have changed the way we live in our kitchens. Mal Corboy, a well-known Auckland, New Zealand, kitchen designer says all of this evolution has changed the design process. (http://i.stuff.co.nz/lifestyle/home-property/83715964/howmuch-has-the-modern-kitchen-changedin-the-past-10-years)

Most residential design/build project communications used to be done in person, by phone and by email. Dream Kitchen Builders still uses those tools, but now we also use messaging and social media apps, and we use these business tools to communicate via mobile devices.

The amount of kitchen and bath information that’s available to consumers is enormous and growing larger every day. This has made us all educated buyers and given consumers more control of each aspect of a design/build project.

We’re now experimenting with smart appliances and wireless devices in the kitchen and bathroom that use artificial intelligence to help us get things done. I cook, so I give voice commands to Siri to set a timer to adjust my music and more while I’m cooking. I’m hands free, so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing. Smart technology hasn’t gone mainstream yet, but appliance and device makers are designing and producing amazing new kitchen and bath products, and early adopters are trying them out and talking about them to their friends.

Last but not least, every kitchen and bath product seems to have almost limitless options and price points and many include free shipping. Clients are now buying kitchen and bath products online and sourcing them internationally. Kitchens and bathrooms have always evolved, but the changes we are now seeing are so revolutionary that they are disrupting the way kitchen and bath business is done – changing the relationship between professionals and consumers and changing the way we live.

 Scott Koehler is the owner of Dream Kitchen Builders, a design-build firm in North Carolina.

Feb 13 2017

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The Connected Home

There was a time when I was not connected to my phone. I remember the pre-iPhone days and scoffing at the idea that I would have to remotely check my email or look up information online.

Fast-forward to a typical Saturday. I’ll listen to Pandora during my morning run and then the news while I’m making lunch. I’ll look up Pinterest ideas for dinner and then add ingredients I need to my AnyList app. My husband and I will book a movie on our phones and have the tickets already on there by the time we go. And even when we’re going to bed, I’ll be setting my alarm on my phone and then placing it right next to the bed.

Part of me hates how attached I am to my phone now, but here we are. We all use it for everything and don’t remember how we got by beforehand. How did we get by? I think the answer is that we simply didn’t accomplish as much on a single day as we do today.

The reason behind this soliloquy is this week’s #KBTribeChat on Connected Convenience. KBB magazine listened in and found out a bit more about where we are going with this technology and how we got there.

Why we want it. It’s all about a lack of time and energy. We would love technology to do things in the kitchen like running the dishwasher at a certain time, chopping up ingredients or automatically generating a shopping list.

Why we need it. According to the National Fire Protection Association, in 2010-2014, U.S. fire departments responded to 166,100 home structure fires that started in the kitchen. We leave our stoves and ovens on in our rush to get things done. We also have no idea when to service our appliances or how to service them.

Cooking with tech. More people today use apps instead of cookbooks to make recipes. Home cooks would like to see more reviews of recipes, suggestions by chefs and videos of steps.

Controlling with tech. It might seem unnecessary to some, but many feel that having an “extra hand” in the kitchen would save time. Amazon Echo introduced this concept, and users want more – to find out measurements, recipes and to set timers.

How are you using technology in your home? Be sure to tell us on our Facebook page, on Twitter @kbbmagazine and on Instagram @kbbconnect.