New York – The Kitchen/Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) may be the largest trade event for major appliances, but a much smaller, regional show here might carry more clout.
The annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show (ADHDS), now in its 14th year, consistently draws a high-powered mix of decorators, designers, buyers, media and well-heeled consumers.
While most of the show is devoted to home furnishings and accessories, a growing contingent of super-premium appliance manufacturers, anchored by co-sponsor Jenn-Air, are making this their next stop after the K/BIS conclave in January.
As Almo Corp. president/CEO Warren Chaiken observed from his crowded exhibit booth here on opening day this week, the show may be regional but its attendees include key trend and style influencers who can help generate buzz and build demand for a brand.
Almo, the national majap and CE distributor, is a longtime exhibitor at ADHDS, where it showcases its luxury Capital, Liebherr, Sharp Electronics and Zephyr kitchen lines.
Also watching over his flock of premium to ultra-premium brands including Bertazzoni, Blomberg and Marvel was Marty Friedman, principal of East Coast majap distributor Eastern Marketing. An elder statesman of the white-goods industry, he held court as a steady stream of well-wishers stopped to say hi and/or do business.
But all was not smiles. Friedman expressed concern for the industry and dealers he loves over competitive moves by Korean manufacturers. He said their drive for greater market share is creating the same disruption in white-goods that helped destabilize the TV business, leaving premium and ultra-premium appliances as the only safe haven, for now.
In that event dealers could take comfort in the plethora of stylish, innovative and high-margin products on display. Drawing a crowd was Blomberg’s new ventless heat-pump dryer, one of only three brands to utilize the technology (LG and Whirlpool are the other two).
According to Sazi Zeki Bugay, North American marketing and product manager for the Turkish majap maker, the stackable unit is only 24 inches wide but offers 4.1-cubic-feet of capacity, and uses 50 percent less energy and 40 percent lower circulating air temperature than compact air-vented dryer. Shipping begins this fall.
Size also mattered for Sharp, which added a 30-inch version of its popular 24-inch microwave draw and updated both with a sleeker stainless steel design and concealed control panel.
“It’s not surprising that open kitchen designs are increasingly popular, and Sharp’s microwave drawer fits extremely well with this trend,” said associate product marketing VP Tim Kavanaugh. “By placing the microwave under the counter, you can clear the countertops, open up sightlines, and have more convenient access for cooking and cleanup.”
The low-profile drawers use an automatic “Easy Touch” glide system to open and close gently, while the hidden controls tilt up at a 45-degree angle for easy access. Both units offer 1,000 watts of power and 1.2 cubic feet of capacity, with the larger model commanding a $100 step, to a suggested $1,399. Shipping begins next month.
Elsewhere, Jenn-Air heated things up with its new dual convection wall oven that offers even baking on all three racks simultaneously thanks to the opposing rotations of its two fans. Their 6,800 watts of combined convection power allows users to dispense with pre-heating, while other oven features include a 7-inch, full-color, touch- anywhere LCD display with sliding temperature bar; a front-mounted oven light and larger window; and – a Jenn-Air first – wireless connectivity via iOS and Android mobile devices. Shipping begins in September.
The ADHD show runs now through March 22 at Piers 92 and 94 on Manhattan’s West Side, with special weekend appearances by Martha Stewart and TV’s “The Property Brothers.”