New Home Products

By Dan Gregory

The innovative new Moxie speaker showerhead from Kohler gives new meaning to "streaming music live."

Here are the products that caught my eye (and ear) at the 2013 International Home Builder Show in Las Vegas.  Kohler launched their very cool, clever, and sleek Moxie shower head: it has a built-in wireless speaker and plays up to 7 hours of music and news (you should be very clean after that…). The magnetic speaker pops out of the shower head for easy recharging of its lithium-ion battery. It pairs with Bluetooth-enabled devices and you can even leave it on the vanity — just don’t confuse it with a bar of soap. The shower head has 60 angled nozzles for an even spray (second image courtesy Kohler).

GE showed renewed vigor with a strong line of new developments including French door refrigerators with a variety of new functions including a hot and cold water/ice dispenser in the left hand door — called the GE Cafe Refrigerator, available in April. There are four pre-programmed temperature settings, from lukewarm to hot. As a GE executive told me: “Consumers don’t know they want hot water out of it but it makes their life easier.” One model has sensors that allow for a hands-free auto-fill function (no more leaning on the button when you’d rather multitask!), and there’s also a “precise fill” function if you need an exact number of cups for a recipe. Easy operation extends to replacing the water filter — just lift up a panel in the door and pop the new one in (images courtesy GE). According to GE this filter removes trace contaminats like pharmaceuticals and lead. GE has re-imagined several other appliances, including the clothes washer.

Their new High Efficiency Top-load Washer boasts the industry’s largest capacity at five cubic feet for top loading models while using less energy and water than a traditional washer. It has no agitator so there’s more room for clothes; it can hold a gallon each of detergent and fabric softener, dispensed automatically. I like the glass lid so you can check the wash cycle: science in motion! But then I am easily mesmerized.

The new GE Cafe dishwasher has a an innovative “Steam Prewash” function to loosen baked-on residue. GE has reinvested heavily in their appliance division — hiring a new team of industrial designers and bringing manufacturing back to the US from offshore — and it shows in the genuine pride of GE staff and in the expanding product line.

Velux launched what must be a first: their Solar-Powered Fresh Air Skylight. It’s
remote-controlled — the solar panel is at the base of the unit and a sensor automatically closes the skylight if it rains. This is one of those ideas that seem so simple and inevitable  you wonder why nobody ever developed it before.

I heard more talk of contemporary design this year than in the past, and companies like Formica made it evident with their eye-catching Annversary Laminate Collection of designs by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, Abbot Miller, and Daniel Weil. This fan deck shows the array of patterns celebrating the modern era’s long interest in overlapping geometries.

A spare modern look is part of the new Revo Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Series from Heat & Glo® (photo courtesy Heat & Glo). The thin flame line uses Heat & Glo’s patented Razor technology and heat output reaches 24,000 BTUs. The slender 7-inch deep profile in so-called vertical, square, and linear shapes makes it easy to install. The unit is hung on mounting brackets; no exterior chase is required.



Originally Published in Eye On Design

08/08/2013