Kitchen & Bath Design News

NOV 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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was one topic raised and Whitaker had a ready response. Without doing a deep tech dive, he shares that "home technology professionals deal with this differently than homeowners or other trades," which involves creating a separate network for smart home systems. TOP TECHNOLOGY TRENDS "The connected appliance category is growing. But this has a real technology consequence," Whitaker notes. Bad networks and Wi-Fi can be its undoing. "One of the biggest trends is getting better connectivity to the kitchen and bath to support all these new devices. This has become a concern, and even an obstacle, for consumers wanting these conveniences," he reports. This is also one of those areas where a home technology consultant can be essential to a project. He or she should be brought in at the earliest planning stages, as technology's phys- ical and cost requirements can have a major impact on your success. "Tunable lighting is another huge trend in homes that can transform a kitchen or bath," Whitaker shares. This is the technology that al- lows for more natural color and temperature to better reproduce natural light indoors. "From bright white to sunset warmth, color tuning is not only about utility; it's also about mood and ambiance," he comments. "In the bath area, new smart mirrors are the future. Being able to grab content, updates and even social streams right from the single-most stared at space in the bathroom is going to have huge implications on how our lives are lived, and updated, in these spaces," he adds. Whitaker is also bullish on connected toilets. "Research says that the number one location for damaging leaks in the home is the toilet. What if a connected toilet could prevent that?" Leak detection overall is a strong trend, he says, with systems that can detect, advise and even prevent leaks available now. "Music is always a must for the bathroom space, but speakers can take abuse from the steam and humidity," he says. One of Whitaker's designer tour stops at the CEDIA expo was Origin Acoustics, which recently released a line of water-resistant speakers for spaces like these. BARRIERS TO SUCCESS The need and demand are clearly there to in- clude home technology in the kitchen and bath. Consumers are requesting it. Manufacturers are creating it. Designers and architects are working on getting up to speed – and finding the right project partners. So what are the barriers to inclusion? The finding that shocked NKBA's Zach most was the fact that "only 32 percent of designers 'always' or 'frequently' recommend technology in the kitchen." As a research analyst, she wanted to know why. "We know that, in the designer-consum- er first meeting, the consumer comes with beautiful pictures and often has no concept of budget," Zach observes. That meeting is often about setting expectations for budget and time. "So, a couple of things are happening here: The designer might not bring up the technology, as that will run over and above what the consumer is asking for to begin with; if they cannot afford the countertops they have in mind, how are they going to afford the costly tech? All these things put together may be contributing to why the designer is not specifying tech from the get-go," the analyst theorizes. "Taking all that I've learned, the designers are trying to stretch the consumer's dollar and get them as much as they can so it looks good and they want to keep their risks down. They don't know as much as they would like to know. That's the truth." "The fact that the fear is entirely based on confusion and knowledge on both sides is exactly why we need to work together, and to start earlier on projects," Whitaker declares. "There is a great-performing tech product out there that can fit right into your design. You just don't know it yet. That's why we are here to help." LAST WORDS "Fast forward and we will likely see costs go down and designers starting to work with integrators. While the report illustrates some of the obstacles, none of the obstacles are insur- mountable," Zach concludes. NKBA is already looking at publishing a Bathroom Technology Report early next year. ▪ Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is an independent designer in San Diego, the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work and the New Bathroom Idea Book (Taunton Press), and a design journalist, NKBA Chapter Presenter and industry consultant. Her website is She was named one of Kitchen & Bath Design News' 50 top innovators for 2017. Kohler took a booth at the 2018 CEDIA expo to promote its smart Konnect series products. Music plays an increasingly important role in the bath, with moisture-resistant speakers a necessity. Connected toilets and leak-detection systems are growing trends. Photo: Courtesy of Kohler Co. Photo: Courtesy of Kohler Co. Photo: Courtesy of Builder: Blue Heron; Integrator: Eagle Sentry; Speakers: Origin Acoustics. November 2018 • 31

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