KBIS or KBUST? 5 top K BAD’S!

Cheryl Kees Clendenon Business, In Detail Says, kitchen design, Kitchen Hall of SHAME 15 Comments

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Truth? Kind of a yawner. More of a social experience than a learning experience.
I am sorry but I am a KBIS ( Kitchen and Bath Show)  veteran. Been there in the days of Kohler’s fantastic dancers. Sub Zero and Wolf’s elaborate displays, Meredith publication’s partnering with KBIS to build gorgeous set displays….days when EVERY vendor was represented. As a small boutique owner you would not MISS it and as a designer, it was an immeasurable benefit to your inspiration, design library, and knowledge base. Granted, we are in a  tough economy. Got it. Check.
Do not need fancy shmancy booths. But for real? Give us something worth looking at folks! If it were not for my beloved Brizo, Toto, Northern Contours, Blum, Top Knobs and Hafele….why would we even bother? ( ok the food in Chicago is awesome and yes we ate out A LOT) But I miss seeing Bain Ultra, Hansgrohe, and many other mfr.’s who are part of my every day life.
And let me say now, I guess I AM THE ONLY PERSON WHO ATTENDED and who blogs that did not think it was worth the cab fare from the airport? Either that or everyone else is keeping their size 9 and a half mouths shut for fear of NKBA reprisal….”you aren’t the boss of me Mr. NKBA and I ain’t scared of you anyhow!” …she says with some trepidation in her usual defiant voice.
So what gives? In my not-so-humble opinion…think the powers that be at the NKBA are not in touch with what their membership wants…nor are they in touch with what vendors need. Ok, there I said it and the two ton elephant is in the room!

Here are my K-Bad’s….

1. As a showroom owner, there is nothing at KBIS that I can make money on. Nothing. The smaller mfr’s who will “maybe” work with smaller dealers are priced out of the game. For the most part. Cut the costs for exhibitors and you will see a healthier show.
2. The venue in Chicago is awesome but really when you can walk the show in half a day and see a ton of empty space…may be time to move to smaller and cozier forum. I will go to New Orleans next year but simply because it is a 3 hour drive. I heart Chicago but seriously the Unions there kill all the exhibitors with the exorbitant costs. Plenty of cities would jump at the chance to host KBIS with less restrictions. Ok, Whew! I said that too!
3. Offerings for attendees do not address the needs of the membership. Oh and do not tell me to try and talk to them about it…I did this and so did others years ago when the writing was on the wall ….I was a chapter rep and as you all know, I am not very quiet with my opinions. The leadership of the NKBA needs to be revamped. Immediately if not sooner. 
4. The majority of the design contest winners do not represent the best design.  I am sorry but is simply true. Everyone talked about it. There were some exceptions. A few. I do not know how they choose judges but someone needs to get a grip. And yes you can call it bad grapes or whatever that saying is but truth is truth and I have been a winner in the past…and one of mine I questioned…why?  We all know there is the favored folks who win all the time and rarely is real design.
5. The NKBA is no longer relevant. Thus, the show needs to have new direction without the NKBA. I do not know if this is even possible. But the NKBA itself is only relevant to those already IN THE ORGANIZATION. No one in my area gives a toot about being a CKD and our local chapter has never taken off. Why would it? The speakers are not relevant and there is no other reason to get together. I have heard many of the former Board presentations…nice people but speakers they are NOT. Clients care about what my portfolio looks like and they care about what former clients say about my firm. That is it. The CKD is valuable for those who sell cabinetry and design as well but not those designers that do not work for a large firm and even then not sure it really matters. See the discussion Here with dealers. Interesting info.

   A few photos for your entertainment.

Anyone who buys this is a moron.

Ditto. Despite the fact that Apartment Therapy posted it as a “find”. Giggle Giggle.


No offense meant. But who the hell buys this crap?


So yes I did pay all that money to fly all that way just to have the pleasure of going around McCormick opening mags to our project page! Was as good a reason any else.
So which side are you sitting on?



Comments 15

  1. Great post Cheryl, you speak a whole lot of truth and I hope the powers that be see this and start pushing KBIS back to relevance.

    1.  Regional, smaller shows, I agree. Designers/Dealers are reluctant to leave the showroom for more than a day. On the east coast, it would be nice to hit NYC, Philly, Baltimore, etc.. NYC Architectural Digest show was a huge success and many people traveled from 30 miles+ to see this show because they could drive.

    1. Thanks Timothy. I think people need to talk about this more openly or will not change. The good old boys run the nkba. And they simply are not doing a great job.

  2. Could not have been better said, Cheryl. KBIS has abandoned those of us in the working world for what’s beginning to look like a regional home show with booths full of roasted nuts and some guy selling sham-wows. 

    Beyond the misguided attempts by the NKBA to keep on keeping on, isn’t that why so many of our competitors(and some friends) are going out(or getting out) of the kitchen and bath industry anyway? The nature of the world now is to be adaptable and flexible. Things this year are not how they were last year, and won’t be this way next year. It would be refreshing to see the NKBA and KBIS be innovative again. Show us why our industry is still exciting and relevant!

    I didn’t go to KBIS this year- Chicago is not one of my choice venues and I knew that after seeing the show in Vegas last year that this year would likely be no different. There are shows out there on fire and making progress. KBIS should take note or they’ll be checking out.

    I’ll see you in New Orleans, Cheryl. I’ve already chalked up the show as being slim, but it’s close to home, in a good town, and I’ll get to see all my people. Bourbon Street with a bunch of kitchen nerds will be fun. I’ll schedule in a couple of hours for the show floor… doubt I’ll need much more.

  3. As they say you have to know what is wrong before you can improve right?

    Let’s talk about the NKBA for a moment.  Here in San Diego it’s kinda limited to an “Old Wives Club”.  I don’t mean harm but it’s quickly turning into what ASID became a decade ago – just a bunch of seasoned gals churning out the same tired designs and patting each other on the back for it.  I hate to be mean but I have a couple of “will remain unnamed” high end designers here that feel the same way.  So much so that when my renewal came around this year I tossed it aside and paid my bar tab instead.  I figure that was more productive. 

    It’s almost come down to a quality of events really.  If all you’re doing is picking the local appliance showroom and offering a glass of wine then I’m not going to make a 45 minute drive.  We once had Nick DiGuilio and that was nice.  But that was a highlight event.  The rest were bland in comparison.

    SO… how does this relate to KBIS?  Well having flown out to the event in Las Vegas and then doing the Chicago show I did feel like there was a bit of an improvement.  Then again I was a speaker and attended as press.  Let’s just say the press room makes one hell of a difference.  The other part was that I did make the event work for me.  I made a shit load of appointments before the event and focused more on getting in depth with the vendors that I wanted to see versus the other “filler” vendors that served as nothing more than a “Worst of show” (ask Lisa Smith, @thedecorgirl:disqus)

    I have to say this… I think a lot of shows are trying to find their relevance in what has become a serious ass kicking of an economy.  Years ago it was easier – dollars flew around like nothing and we were all relishing in tiny bubbles.  But companies (including their PR groups) don’t have the money that they used to.  And we have to take that into perspective when heading out to the shows.  Give it some time.  Remember, Subzero/Wolf came back this year after a multiple year hiatus.  So in time. 

    I also had a chance to talk to the Marketing group that handles the show and they’re definitely looking for feedback.  It’s great to hear it from the mfg side but they want to hear it from us to.  So of course, be honest and don’t try to keep anything back.  I’d love to send constructive criticism off to MSI for their use. 

    Too long? 

    1. Never too long my sweet talking new friend! But I agree in the local level. Even I am too young for our group! Heheh. And no innovative or interesting speakers. In fact I was a guest speaker on how to get published and it was best attended meeting we had in three years. Why? Because I am fab speaker? Maybe. But really is that the TOPIC was of interest to a great number of members. And I am entertaining:)

      But I have to disagree on giving it time. I think the NKBA needs to release some control of it and pricing for vendors needs to come down also so good vendors come back. But like nick said the industry is changing and we have to address this as an organization. Well they do. And the nkba is a 6000 pound giant with a hell of a lot of money. They cannot react quickly enough to te market changes. And this is mandatory. The change happens too quickly. And with leadership that is at the helm, will never happen. I would suggest to organizers to eliminate nkbas involvement or limit it greatly.

      1. Agree! On all points. Is solo true and the lumbering giant we call the nkba cannot move quick enough to adapt to changing needs.

    2. Thanks Brandon, appreciate it! And good seeing you last week.  Yes, KBIS and MSI are absolutely interested in constructive criticism.  We worked hard to continue making improvements this year and are already planning for next. It would be great to set
      up a call or conversation with everyone here and more. We’ve been discussing the idea of a focus group of sorts and will be in touch so we can hear all feedback and ideas, it’s important to us.  I’ll be in touch asap!

  4. I agree, I’ve been looking to showcase our new product line for the last two years, but it’s a little expensive and to far to travel from OKC.  I haven’t attended, but it sounds like it’s good that I haven’t.  Though I am heavily considering showing in New Orleans, it’s closer and I think quite a few people will attend being that its in such a fun city.  See our products online and let me know if you think that we would be a good fit for the show.  We’re the industry’s largest manufacturer of decorative iron brackets.  I would say that about 70% of our sales go towards countertop support.  So I would think that this show would be the right venue for us.  I guess we’ll find out. 
    check us out at http://www.wroughtironcorbels.com Thanks, Justin

    1. Post
  5. As far as the Cherry Kitchen goes I agree the flooring and cabinets are too close in color so they are running together.  i don’t know why the higher counter would be black.  I understand the reason for all of the drawers but here we see how it is distracting to the eye with too much of the same thing.  The hanging light in the ceiling is something I would not have done. The mural above the cooktop seems to have too many pieces in it and having the backsplash tile the same color as the hood has created the same problem as the floor and the cabinets running together. I am sure the owner loves it.  I just think that a designer could have made some different shade variations to make the items pop instead of running together.

  6. This whole “NKBA does not represent me” theme has been festering in the back of my mind for a few years now.  I really have nothing to add except that after almost 15 years I’m considering dropping my CKD.  The firm I work with is likely going to opt out of membership meaning I’m alone for covering my dues.  If you think the NKBA has lost touch with you in the USA, try being a designer in Canada, and Western Canada at that.  Disenfranchised doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel.

    As to KBIS; unless Nick, Kelly, Brandon and a host of others are there, the Internet has really made the show irrelevant.  Why would I go to see something I’ve already got the specs for?  The show used to be the place to be to see the latest and greatest.  Now it’s just the place to ask your reps why they haven’t been to see you.

    I’ll go whenever it’s in Vegas, because … well … it’s VEGAS!  And for us on the West Coast it’s affordable.  New Orleans is also on the agenda because I do love me some gumbo.

  7. No line at Starbucks, plenty of seating for lunch and a 5
    minute queue for a taxi…oh wait…no people!  
    I too have been attending KBIS for nearly 25 years and this had to be
    the worst!  Other than bumping into a few
    old friends, the show was a complete waste of time and money for me.  What if they put on a KBIS and nobody
    came?  KBIS/2013

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