Kitchen & Bath Design News

OCT 2018

Kitchen & Bath Design News is the industry's leading business, design and product resource for the kitchen and bath trade.

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t's often said that the only constant in life is change. And, in a fast-paced industry driven by trends, technology, new products and ever-evolving hu- man needs, it's no surprise that innovation is an essential part of what makes the kitchen and bath industry thrive. But innovation isn't just about products, technology or trends. Rather, innovation comes from the people who bring great designs to life: the designers, dealers and industry pros who conceive new ideas, solve difficult problems, forge new business models, find creative ways of helping homeowners experience and embrace their most personal spaces, share their knowledge by speaking, blogging, mentoring and serv- ing their industry, and inculcate design into their communi- ties at large. Of course everyone knows that the kitchen and bath industry loves to celebrate great design – and great design has always been at the heart of what this industry is all about. But Kitchen & Bath Design News has long held that it's equally important to celebrate the great designers, dealers and industry leaders who innovate every day, in myriad ways, both large and small, in order to raise the bar for the kitchen and bath industry as a whole. For that reason, KBDN is proud to present its second annual Top 50 Innovators list, honoring industry profes- sionals who have made a name for themselves through their creative efforts, leadership talents, business acumen and professionalism. Nominated by their peers and then reviewed by the KBDN nominating committee, the 2018 Innovators reflect the best and the brightest industry talents – those shining stars who are lighting the way for future generations to come and redefining a multifaceted industry that reshapes lives even as it redesigns homes. These are the artists who never stop seeking inspiration, the teachers who have never stopped learning, the technol- ogy gurus who are always ahead of the curve, the business professionals who understand that innovation is what drives success and profitability, the marketing talents who under- stand how to re-imagine the very channels of communica- tion – and, most of all, the human beings whose passion drives them to always strive to be better – and in doing so, to make the industry better as well. Some are long-time industry veterans, while others are young talents still forging their paths; some have showrooms, while others work as independent designers. Many are active in leadership roles, whether through as- sociation involvement, educational efforts or community programs. Several focus on a particular market segment or design specialty, where others have found their niche in catering to a broader-based audience, showcasing their innovation in the way they do business, interact with customers, forge ties with their communities or solve tough problems. What they all share is an ability to think, work and create outside the box; a fearlessness in advancing their dreams and goals; a gift for leadership; the ability to change and evolve to keep pace with a rapidly changing market, and an extraordinary commitment to their firms, their clients and the kitchen and bath industry as a whole. On this and the following 12 pages, KBDN spotlights the 2018 Innovators – 50 outstanding kitchen and bath profes- sionals who are changing the industry right now. ▪ Know someone who's a true innovator in the kitchen and bath in- dustry? KBDN will begin accepting nominations for next year's Innovators on January 1, 2019. Visit KitchenBathDesign.com for further details. Michele Alfano Designer uses architecture back- ground to craft thoughtful spaces. With formal architecture training and experience, Michele Alfano brings a distinctive bold, modern flair to her designs. The founder and creative director of Hudson Valley-based Mi- chele Alfano Design holds a Masters of Architecture from the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and is known for her architectural approach to kitchen and bath design. Alfano refers to her livable modern design style as "a tailored emo- tional intelligence" – thoughtfully designed spaces that are eye-catching, highly functional and inspire well-being. According to Alfano, her design process begins with a program of listening to her clients and under- standing the context of the problem before developing a solution. Her disciplined detailing brings spaces to life by inviting people to feel and to touch, and challenging them to think. Alfano has received plenty of attention from brands, publications and media for her work. She was selected for the DXV Design Panel 2017, received accolades from the 2017 BLANCO by Design contest and was a speaker on design panels at KBIS and Wanted Design. In addition to being a sought-after designer, Alfano is also a strong voice in the design blogosphere. In her design blog MOD Design Guru, she ex- plores new innovations in the industry and investigates how lifestyles evolve alongside design trends. MOD Design Guru has been recognized by the JDR Industry Awards and the Modenus Top 100 Interior Design Blogs, and Alfa- no has been invited to travel and write for brands such as Tile of Spain, Miele, Mr.Steam, Brizo, Zephyr, DXV, Du Verre, the NKBA, Modenus and Axor. Michael Ampuja Designer crafts inventive solu- tions for challenging spaces Coming from a family of architects and builders, Mike Ampuja knew that he wanted to be a designer from an early age. After attending a technical high school for building design and studying architectural engineering in college, Ampuja went on to become an NKBA-certified designer with the North Smithfield, RI firm Closettec. Ampuja previously received a nod in KBDN's August 2018 issue for his mobile showroom design, a solution born out of a need to work around customers' demanding work schedules. In designing the showroom, Ampuja had to deal with many unique concerns, including weight distribution, lighting the displays and incorporating a mobile power source. According to Ampuja, the showroom puts clients in need of custom storage solutions for tricky spaces at ease. He hopes to have additional mobile showrooms on the road in the near future. Much like the mobile showroom, Ampuja's designs are perfectly tailored to clients' specific needs in order to maximize the utility of avail- able space. One recent project in Boston, for example, a custom movie theater bar, boasts custom storage for 3-D glasses, remotes and candy. When considering customers' needs, Ampuja emphasizes the need to create timeless designs that will grow with clients and their families. I October 2018 • KitchenBathDesign.com 41

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