To market, to market …

North Carolina has a long history and reputation in the home furnishings industry for manufacturing fine furniture and textiles. The renowned High Point Market in High Point is the world’s premier home furnishings event.

High Point Market Square
High Point Market Square

Each spring and fall, thousands of industry professionals from around the world descend upon the sleepy little town of High Point, North Carolina to discover the latest interior design trends, see new product debuts, and network with their colleagues and peers. It’s the KBIS of the home furnishings and decor world. Manufacturers ship their newest and most beautiful creations to exhibit halls and showrooms for presentation to buyers from across the globe.

This fall I was presented with the opportunity to experience a small taste of the market while attending the NKBA Design Business Summit, which was taking place in High Point. The event began with a presentation from the High Point Market Authority, where it was made clear to us that a relationship between the NKBA and the High Point Market Authority would be mutually beneficial. Kitchen and bath designers who open accounts with merchants displaying at High Point would have access to a complete array of home furnishing products and decor.

Following the presentation, NKBA designers were divided among five tour guides, who each had favorite showrooms and manufacturers to share with us. Short of sounding like a giddy teenager, the next couple of hours were amazing. The only time I probably stopped smiling was to sip champagne or nibble on a delicious morsel.

When you are working on a kitchen remodel, do you have resources if the homeowner asks for your help in the living room or bedroom? Will you have sources for furniture, soft goods, artwork and beautiful lighting?

We were lucky to meet some designers who could talk to us about their products and answer questions. Raleigh, NC-based designer, Louise Gaskill (pictured below in yellow blazer), turns recycled Murano glass into the most amazing lighting. Clients commission custom pieces and Louise works her magic to create them.

NKBA-certified kitchen and bath designers should not be afraid to apply their knowledge to other areas of the home.

Even if one is completely content to focus only on kitchens and bath, it is difficult not to be impressed with the sheer volume and variety of quality products available at High Point. From exquisitely designed furniture to handcrafted lighting and decor items, I was excited and inspired as we ventured from one venue to the next.

Following the tour, the NKBA designers spent the evening socializing with colleagues. It was a fun way to end a busy day.

NKBA Design Business Summit Attendees
NKBA Design Business Summit Attendees

In addition to a lovely meal, we were gifted with really cool shades!

At the NKBA Design Business Summit, we were presented with tools to help us take our design businesses to the next level. Speakers included :

  • Luann Nigara, author of The Making of A Well-Designed Business and host of the #1 podcast for the interior design business – A Well-Designed Business
  • Leanne Wood, principal of Flying Camel Advertising, Design + PR
  • Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Web Marketing
  • Panel discussion moderated by Sherry Qualls, featuring Veronika Miller of Modenus; Claire Jeffords, Interior Design business coach; and NKBA insider Elle H-Millard, CKD

Many thanks to the NKBA for hosting this educational and inspirational event!

 

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Are You Inviting “Big Brother” into Your Home with Smart Technology?

The debate continues about whether smart technology makes sense in the kitchen. It’s hard to argue against appliances that notify owners of problems and schedule service. However, some object to delegating tasks and thinking to smart devices. They worry that smart devices are making us lazy, or worse, dumb and anti-social.

As the baby boomer population continues to grow and people are busier than ever, one can easily make the case for employing smart technology in kitchen design. Configuring smart devices and appliances with smart phones, Google Home, or Amazon Alexa lets you remotely complete tasks that normally require your presence or direct touch.

Who Is Interested in Smart Home Technology?

According to The New York Times article, To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen, only 5% of Americans own smart appliances. Yet, appliance brands lead us to believe there is high demand.

In a related survey from October 2017, RICKI – Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence, the nation’s leading authority for kitchen research and trends, revealed statistics about who is interested in smart technology:

rickisurveysmarttech

If only 5% of Americans own smart appliances, these percentages translate to fairly small numbers. Interest does not necessarily result in a purchase.

Appliance Brands Need to Walk the Talk

I live in the high-tech region of North Carolina known as Research Triangle Park (RTP). RTP is home to numerous IT companies from hi-tech startups to well-established giants like IBM. Local designers enjoy a higher level of interest in technology products here.

During a recent visit to The Appliance Center in Durham, I spoke with owner, Stu Stewart, and Marketing Director, Kim Stewart. They supply appliances to the building and design communities, as well as homeowners. They report seeing a limited number of homeowners or builders seeking smart appliances, and 80 percent of consumers are not computer-savvy. The Appliance Center’s staff receives training on smart technology from the brands, which equips them with the knowledge to educate their customers.

Appliance brands need to educate their sellers and help them stay current with smart technology in order to efficiently sell it. Combine uneducated consumers with untrained sales professionals, and the percentages noted by RICKI are not surprising. If sellers cannot explain the benefits and uses of smart features, how can they close the sale?

Smart Technology in the Kitchen

Many appliance brands offer smart technology options. Dacor has refrigerators with features that simplify our lives: Doors open with a touch… interior LED lights illuminate what’s inside… Dual cameras pair with your smartphone so you can see inside your fridge as you shop.

Samsung brings cutting-edge technology to the masses with the Family Hub Refrigerator. With a panel similar to your tablet or smart phone, you can access multiple apps right from the fridge. Pull up the family calendar… Play music… Leave a note.

The Family Hub Refrigerator operates on Z-Wave technology. People lacking skills might want to consult a technology professional to ensure it functions as expected.

Great Appliances Help Us Prepare Great Meals

Maybe Bertazzoni president, Paolo Bertazzoni, has the right idea… The enduring Italian appliance company does not want their appliances to rely on a smart phone. The main objective for their appliances is that they cook well!

redbertazonnigasrange

We live in exciting and changing times in the design industry. Some consumers will find the idea of smart technology in the kitchen irresistible. But me, I’d rather spend the extra money on a snazzy range and sit around the table talking with mi famiglia.

notech family dinner

Daily Design Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration when you are planning to update your home? Many people are conditioned nowadays to go to Pinterest or Houzz to find ideas. They may see some pretty pictures of white kitchens and say, “Oooo! I want that!” So they complete their remodel with white cabinets and whatever else they found online.

Other people are inspired by life… maybe they recently took a trip. Perhaps they went to Italy and visited Siena.

Inspired by the beautiful red, gold, and black marble used all over Siena, they consulted a designer and asked her to “…design a room that makes me feel like I’m in Siena.” We probably won’t include a statue looking in the direction of Florence to fend off invaders, but we can select products and materials that evoke memories of Siena.

Or maybe you’ve just come back from a very cool exhibit at the art museum and you’d like to have that ultramodern feel in your home:

Can you imagine creating a room with this as your inspiration? Combine Monogram stainless steel appliances with white cabinets and add drama with counters and lighting. You are limited only by your imagination and your budget.

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Maybe you aren’t into art and just want a room that coordinates with your beloved pet or the woods by your house…

Putting together a kitchen or bathroom composed of dark and creamy tones with natural green accents is welcoming and classic.

DavisPresBrd

A neutral palette leaves plenty of room for pops of your favorite colors. Confine the accent colors to paint and soft goods to change out at whim with minimal expense and disruption.

So go out and look around and be inspired! Share your ideas with your favorite designer and together you can create a space that moves you.