When the global home-sweet-home crowd sets its sites on sweet home Chicago – it can only mean one time of year – the arrival of the 117th International Home + Housewares Show.
This year’s show kicked into high gear at McCormick Place with more than 2,100 exhibitors and 60,000 attendees from 125 counties.
Adding to the festivities, the conference overlapped with Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day revelry. Nearly 1,000 show attendees were fêted at the show’s Irish pub-themed party, complete with food, drinks and live music.
And while “Chicago River Green,” clearly ruled as the hue-with-a-view on St. Patrick’s Day – the Pantone Color Institute’s Lee Eiseman delivered a popular session at the show, forecasting future directions in color, themes and motifs in home and housewares products Her spin of the color wheel revealed:
- Radiant Orchid continues its reign as the Pantone Color of the Year, “The inspiration for it is a harmony of fuchsia and pink undertones, like a gorgeous sunset. It's a hue that sparks the imagination. It is a magical, captivating and enigmatic color," said Eiseman. You can increasingly spot the color in architecture and lighting, both outdoors and indoors, and even in hair color and makeup, especially in high fashion, she said.
- In greens, it’s Hunter Green. In yellows, it’s greenish-yellow. In blue, it’s energized hues like indigo. energized, such as classic indigo. In the orange family, she said a peachy-orange takes the day.
- In the housewares industry, red is always everywhere, but Eiseman said, but she predicts "newer and fresher voices of red, combined with orange, pink and purple."
- Eiseman also unveiled the nine color palettes forecast for 2015:
Style Settings: As high fashion is often a forerunner to styling for home furnishings in line, design, texture and color, this palette is all about pose, finesse and polish. The elegance of the purple family adds a dramatic interplay against the classic mahoganies, off whites, grays and taupes, along with Frosted Almond and Champagne Beige.
- Abstractions: This palette releases the inner artist in each of us, Eiseman said. Just as in the formulation of abstract art, styling might seem randomly gathered, forming a mosaic of differing shapes, many of them geometric. Colors like grape and apricot, dahlia red, stonewashed blue, hazel nut brown and vineyard green come from equally disparate places, but when brought together create an artistic whole.
- Botanicum: This palette is lifted directly from the complexities of flora and foliage, forming intriguing groupings filled with succulent shadings of green and grape and cafe au lait, counterbalanced with dusty or smoky tones of blue and orchid.
- Zensations: This palette engages and heightens the senses as it displays a literal "enlightenment" by taking the thoughtful, meditative qualities of the blue and blue-green family to another more visceral level by adding to the palette a compelling red, an atmospheric green and a sparkling silver and gold.
- Urban Jungle: Eiseman said that this palette transforms rustic chaos into something "civilized" and sylvan, speaking more of big city living than that of a wild terrain. Rather than consistently rough textured, contours are smoother and colors a combination of both typical and atypical jungle hues. Warm animal skin tones are set against the modernity of deep blue-greens, a vibrant greenish yellow, plus black and white.
- Tinted Medley: This palette is a harmonious composition of closely related warm tones with peach and pink striking the main chord. Bellini, Apricot Wash, Peach Amber and Macadamia are compatible blends while powdered roses and yellows underscore and support the perfect pitch of a rosy-taupe.
- Past Traces: This palette honors history in the home as many of us are looking for some vestige of the past that is satisfying and reassuring. The look might range from gently worn to contemporized adaptations, with many color names like Pastel Parchment, Cameo Green, Faded Denim and Dusty Cedar.
- Serendipity: In this coming together of unlikely designs and unexpected colors, we will see outgoing oranges, eggshell blues, bright chartreuses enhanced by a yellow golds, and hot pinks embracing a lofty scarlet, all under the watchful gaze or a Tiger's Eye taupe.
- Spontaneity: Irrepressible fun is what this palette called Spontaneity delivers. Just as the name implies, it is the stuff that spur of the moment, impulse buying is all about, with whimsical design and a unique "mash-up" of color mixtures a large part of the attraction. Happy hues of Sunkist Coral, Marigold and Cantaloupe are complemented by Kelly Green and/or "quieted down" with floral accents of Hyacinth, Violet Quartz, Winsome Orchid or Misty Jade.
Now, moving from color to where it lands – in innovative products among other places. Among the many accolades handed out at the show, these Innovation Award-winners deserve a shout-out:
- Polder Housewares, Inc., Hot Sleeve. The perfect companion for people on the go. Safely store your hot styling tools and be on your way to the gym and beyond. The Hot Sleeve's silicone body is heat resistant to 500°F. Wrap the styling tool's cord around and use the plug catch to hold in place when stored.
- Cleaning: Flood Products, Flood Sax. FloodSax is a unique sandless sandbag that can save time, money, even lives versus traditional sandbags. Plus, because it absorbs water, it can do things sandbags could never do. FloodSax uses a biodegradable polymer to absorbs water, then block it. Delivered as a flat one-pound sack, they absorb up to 45 pounds of fresh water in five minutes, forming a dense gel that blocks and redirects water, while forming to each other or adjacent structures for a tighter fit than traditional sandbags. Because they are stored dry, they are cleaner, lighter, more effective and easier to use in the places and times when sandbags are most needed.
- Cook + Bakeware: Now Designs, Dumpling Cube. From the inventor of the Rice Cube comes the Dumpling Cube, Now dumplings are so easy to make as the cube unfolds to make 4 traditional Gyoza style dumplings - quickly and very easily – along with a clever gadget folds, seals, shapes and trims.
- Floor + Carpet Care: iRobot, Roomba 880. This vacuum-cleaning robot has been upgraded to pick up 50 percent more dirt, dust, hair and debris from all floor types. It cleans one room fully before moving on to the next.
- Home Décor + Gifts: The Sweetheart Gallery, Inc., It's a Snap Frame
- . Suburban Chicagoan Mary Barnes of Hindsale came up with a fancier way to display her children’s artwork with snappy decorator frames.
- Home Organization + Storage: Prepara, Evak. Air takes out the freshnes, so EVAK takes out the air. Twin valve system forces the air out as you push down the lid, and lets you easily pull up and remove the lid.
- Household Electrics + Home Environment: Moneual USA, Inc., SW (Smart Wristband) Baby Monitor
- Comprised of a main console made of plastic and a urethane and rubber wristband designed for water-resistance and comfort, the Smart Wristband Baby Monitor utilizes Bluetooth capabilities for short-range communication. The main console's sound filtration system is able to distinguish between white noise (TV, radio, fans) and a baby's cry, alerting parents via the wristband, which vibrates based on intensity and frequency of the baby's sounds.
- Kitchen Electrics: L'Equip, Infrared. A line of juicers and pulp-extractors for a dose of health in your life.
- Kitchen Hand Tools + Cutlery: HIC, Harold Import Co., Evo Oil Sprayer. An alluring Michael Graves Design Group-designed, re-usable bottle with a sophisticated trigger dispenses choice of oils for cooking or dressing foods. Prepare healthy meals with controlled portions of vegetable, olive, canola, peanut or sesame oil, even balsamic vinegar - no propellants or chemicals
- Kitchenware: Staybowlizer, Staybowlizer . Becomes the “third hand” in the kitchen by holding your mixing bowl in place.
- Personal Care + Home Healthcare: Objecto / Hatzlachh Supply Inc., H5 Spiral Hybrid Humidifier. With design admired by Feng Shui enthusiasts, this spiral-shaped humidifier has aromatherapy functions and an anti-bacterial water tank.
- Pet Products: Ginsey Home Solutions, Dirty Paws Footbath. Portable paw cleaner holds water to rinse away dirt, while microfiber towel quickly dries paws before entering car or home.
- Tabletop: GRAYL, The Water Filtration Cup. Provides safe, great-tasting water on the go. With a filtration system that works like a coffee press, you can filter 16 ounces in just 15 seconds. Say goodbye to heavy metals, chemicals, and pathogens that can affect your health or make you sick. Replaceable filters last 300 uses, or 40 gallons/150L.
The show honored innovation and excellence in housewares retailing with a gia Global Innovation Award, full list of honorees here and 12 other companies received gia Global Innovation Awards for cutting edge design.
In other show news, the Housewares Charity Foundation also took the moment to honor three industry veterans at its 17th annual gala dinner. David Ortiz, vice president/divisional merchandise manager for cooking/dining at Walmart U.S., was named the 2014 Lifetime Humanitarian; Janis Johnson, president and founder, Gourmet Catalog & Buying Group, was named Specialty Retailer Humanitarian; and Wolfgang Wüsthof, senior partner, WÜSTHOF, was Humanitarian of the Year.
The Home + Housewares Show also left its charitable mark in Chicago after the final hour of the show struck, as pre-approved local charities and nonprofits are able to benefit from any new products donated by vendors at the show’s end.
Since the inception of the Foundation and through its many activities, close to $28 million has been raised, with proceeds benefiting several charities including The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and The Chicago Initiative on Pancreatic Cancer at the University of Chicago, Medicine & Biological Sciences.
Photos: Rachel Greene