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
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
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.