interior design – kitchen & bath
Making Key Connections
opportunities for collaboration
between kitchen & bath designers and tech integrators.
By Suzie Williford, CSO & EVP of Industry Relations
ONE OF THE CRITICAL MISSIONS of the National Kitchen & Bath Association is to empower our membership and the industry at large with information and research that stimulates intelligent conversation and a vibrant exchange of ideas. Our exclusive studies help to accomplish this by spotlighting areas of interest, identifying industry needs and opportunities, and providing data that our businesses can use to strategize, grow and prosper.
In late 2019, NKBA released its Bathroom Technology Awareness and Usage Study. This was the second of two tech-focused studies completed in the last 18 months, and complemented 2018’s Kitchen Technology Awareness and Usage Study.
We conducted this research among designers and consumers, to give designers insight regarding homeowners’ wants and needs for integrating technology into their homes; the opportunities and challenges that exist, offer a snapshot of consumer awareness of the technology that’s available, and explore why they are — or aren’t — using it. The study also gauges designers’ readiness to fulfill these needs, and reveals areas where they can amp up their own knowledge and training in this fast-changing arena.
Additionally, NKBA has taken a leadership role in sharing this exclusive research with such industry peers as CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association) and publications like Technology Designer Magazine, to provide a platform for understanding and connection among the design/remodeling and integrator communities. The goal is that projects are installed properly, work well and look great!
Let me share some of our key findings from the bath study.
usage and attitudes
Master bathrooms can be both a relaxing escape (music, surfing the web, TV, videos) and a place to multitask (email, text, watch or listen to news). Naturally, homeowners look for tech solutions that maximize comfort, deliver efficiency, avoid problems, promote relaxation and provide a feeling of safety. And we found that homeowners really like their technology — but without a “techy” look! Consumers appreciate great sound, visuals, voice-control etc., but they don’t want to see a jumble of wires, switches and connectors.
benefits and barriers
Homeowners look for technologies that make their homes more relaxing and comfortable, while simultaneously enhancing its appearance and market value. The biggest barriers for adding technology are high costs, perceptions of being non-essential, concerns about security and worry over performance reliability.
Designers crave better education on how to incorporate technology into the master bath, presentations highlighting successful integrations and guidelines for pricing. Very few designers polled are familiar with CEDIA, and only one in five integrators are familiar with NKBA. And half of the designers surveyed have never worked with tech contractors or consultants; often because they’re not familiar with them, don’t know whom to contact, and generally rely on electricians to provide technology guidance. Of critical importance is understanding that a smart home is not necessarily a connected home, and designers need to be able to communicate this effectively to their clients.
Obviously, there’s plenty of room for collaboration between K&B designers and technology integrators. Learning about and discussing clean water and clean air strategies, for instance, or providing comfort with thermal controls, and creating the right ambiance with the addition of great sound, lighting and internet connectivity is just the beginning, as we reach out from our world to yours.
We encourage CEDIA members to check out NKBA and join your local chapters, network with designers and other NKBA professionals to begin the process of building a team to ensure projects are as technologically sophisticated as they are beautiful and functional.
We encourage our NKBA members to connect with their local CEDIA integrators as well, to form alliances that further everyone’s businesses. Collaboration and cross-promotion is just the beginning, as all industry players — designers, integrators, vendors and retailers — will benefit in the long run.
If you would like further information on the Bathroom Technology Awareness and Usage report, or any of NKBA’s other research, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
National Kitchen & Bath Association
687 Willow Grove St.
Hackettstown, NJ 07840