Three major trends emerged from the International Home & Housewares Show, which packed more than 6,000 people from 100-plus countries into Chicago recently.
Clean water, multitasking and color were reflected in everything from blenders to filtration systems, from cookware to spatulas.
The understanding that products will do even more could be viewed across all areas of the show.
“The overall theme was a consumer-facing goal of ‘Make my day or change my life; save me 10 minutes or save me 10 bucks,’” said Patrick Spear, president and CEO of the Global Market Development Center, based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
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“Designers are decidedly innovating products that are skewed toward being simple yet exceptional when it came to integration into the consumer’s lifestyle.”
Every item was expected to do more than ever before, including the microwave, which isn’t just for reheating leftovers anymore.
Joseph Joseph’s M-Cuisine products (starts at $12 at josephjoseph.com) included a stackable four-piece cooking set that cooks bacon in the microwave, and it also has products for microwaving pasta, poaching eggs and cooking rice in America’s favorite appliance.
“I started seeing a lot of multifunction products, products that can do more than one thing,” said Lisa Casey Weiss, lifestyle consultant for the International Housewares Association, based in Rosemont, Ill.
Gourmia has the 10-in-1 Multi-Function Robotic Cooker ($149.99 at amazon.com), which can steam, grill, bake, pan fry, stew, slow cook, roast, make sauces and more using a “robot” that automatically stirs and moves air throughout, so the food cooks evenly.
Tying into the clean living, multitasking trend were products designed to do more while taking up a smaller footprint.
KitchenAid presented a mini stand mixer (expected in June from national retailers for $399.99) with a smaller footprint, designed for a customer with a smaller kitchen.
With the Flint, Mich., water crisis not far from many minds, it was hard not to step more than a few feet without landing on another water bottle or water filtration system.
“One of the biggest trends that we saw at the show this year is the concept of healthy living – not just healthy cooking, which is also very important,” Weiss said. “We saw an increase of air purifiers and an increase in a variety of different water-purification products.”
For example, Aquarius Brands created the AquaBoy Pro II (available at the beginning of June for $1,849 from national retailers), which draws humidity from the air and processes it through a seven-step filtration system and turns it into drinking water.
“We’ve seen an increase in water bottles, water filtration, infused water – a whole category of providing safe drinking water for the family, which ties into whole healthy living,” Weiss said.
For safe drinking on the go, the Aquasana Filter Water Bottle ($29.99 at aquasana.com) has a replaceable $15 filter that removes more than 99 percent of bacteria, lead, chlorine, cryptosporidium and giardia.
Water bottles catered to every need in the market, from filtered water to flavored water.
The Eva Solo’s My Flavor Carafe ($56 at evasolo.com) allows beverage drinkers to customize drinks quickly and easily with fruits and vegetables, Spear said.
Pops of color
Finally, colors were hard to miss at the show – from small kitchen appliances to garbage cans. Those shopping for new housewares this spring can expect to be bombarded with colorful products.
When the economy wasn’t doing as well, people were shopping for neutral colors because they weren’t planning to replace their appliances anytime soon, Weiss said.
Those days appear to be over for now.
Baby pink and blue are emerging as the new hot colors, though deep red and other bolder colors are also very trendy.
Japanese brand Sencor (sencor.eu) released an entire line of small kitchen appliances (starting at $34.95, available in a few weeks at Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy) ranging from hand mixers to electric kettles to kitchen scales and stand mixers – all in pastel colors.
“When the economy is doing better, (designers are) more apt to put colors into appliances, because they know that, in a few years, (consumers) can replace them,” Weiss said.