CEDIA EXPO crowd shot

The Power of Collaboration

Industry profile

The Power of Collaboration

Emerald helps bridge the gap between the audio/video and design-build industries.

By Cris Pyle

CEDIA EXPO in the exhibition hall

BRIAN PAGEL, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF EMERALD, one of the world’s largest live event companies, knows the power of connecting organizations and audiences for mutual benefit. His focus now is bridging the gap between the custom electronics-AV and design-build industries by establishing a common vernacular and promoting best practices.

“Our belief is these connections are core to creating beautifully designed and highly intelligent residential environments that meet the evolving needs of the consumer,” he said.

Emerald hosts 142 events annually across five markets — Design, Equipment, Retail, Safety and Security, and Technology — and owns 16 media properties. Its broad Design portfolio covers 10 categories including commercial, hospitality, retail, and kitchen and bath to name just a few. Emerald produces the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) for the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and publishes Kitchen & Bath Business.

"A shift has been underway for some time as home builders, remodelers, architects and designers have come to realize that home technology has become an essential element in modern living and a market differentiator."Brian Pagel, Executive VP of Emerald

Vera Iconica Architecure kitchen 1


An example of the power of collaboration, since 2014 KBIS has co-located with the International Builders' Show (IBS) through a strategic partnership with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), resulting in the creation of Design & Construction Week, which annually hosts nearly 100,000 attendees and 2,000 brands over one million net square feet of show floor space.

In 2017, Emerald acquired the residential technology-focused CEDIA Expo trade show and in 2018, purchased EH Media, publisher of the custom integration trade publication CE Pro and producer of the Total Tech Summit events.

It is the addition of these industry-leading technology brands that Brian believes will allow Emerald to help drive this connection. He said, “We continue to see significant crossover between these events and a growing thirst for this expansion on both the brand and audience side. As we continue to work closely with our partners at NKBA, CEDIA and NAHB, we have high hopes for the possibilities. Regardless, we are focused on delivering world-class content and a highly immersive experience that both enlightens and inspires the broader market.”


Over the last several years, show features and programming have expanded as part of this intentional strategy to connect design and construction pros with the whole-home technology community. Brian explained, “In recognition of CEDIA Expo as the platform where residential technology designers, integrators and manufacturers come together, NKBA became the core of the show’s first Design + Technology Pavilion in 2018.” The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) also anchored the Pavilion which offered a unique opportunity for discussion, learning and fostering connections. The programming included in-depth show floor tours for design and build pros led by technology integrators.

Deemed an overwhelming success in year one, Brian said that it spurred the “Design + Connection Conference,” produced jointly by Emerald and NKBA in 2019. The over 125 design, construction and technology professionals were treated to thought leaders from all disciplines discussing how to better collaborate on projects and learning firsthand the importance of planning the technology early in the project.

Over this same time, the CEDIA association anchored the CEDIA Technology Solutions Pavilion at Design & Construction Week, and KBIS and IBS greatly expanded whole-home technology programming.

CEDIA EXPO in-wall speakers

Brian said, “A shift has been underway for some time as home builders, remodelers, architects and designers have come to realize that home technology has become an essential element in modern living and a market differentiator.

“Home technology designers and integrators are now being brought into project discussions from the beginning. Homeowners are demanding technology solutions that support how they live, work in, and enjoy their homes. CEDIA designers and integrators are in a unique position to pull all the tech elements together seamlessly to add functionality, value and an enhanced living experience.”

The 2019 NKBA Living Impacts Design lifestyle and life stage research identified connected living as one of four macro trends impacting kitchen and bath design. Brian explained that a key goal for Emerald is to promote the understanding of what technology solutions are available and how they can be leveraged and incorporated into home designs working together with the residential technology designers, integrators and manufacturers.

And while there is work yet to do, Brian is pleased with the progress he’s seen these last few years especially with regard to awareness of technology trends among design and build professionals. He expects to see increased opportunities in integrating solutions for health, fitness and wellness, security, and gaming and entertainment, as well as smart appliances and devices, lighting and — becoming more important each day — work-from-home communications.

Colorado Springs smart home gym

“Working from home, I believe, is here to stay even after offices reopen. The need for flexible workspaces and improved wireless networking connectivity throughout the home has become essential,” he said.

He related that according to NKBA’s 2021 Market Trends Report, the top kitchen technology trends include dedicated device charging/viewing, seamless video communication, and emergency power for the refrigerator. In the bathroom, it is smart controls for floor and shower temperature, water conservation, motion sensor lighting, and leak detector sensors with mobile alerts.

As the saying goes, it is a marathon and not a sprint as these industries develop a better understanding of one other. Brian said, “Helping design and construction pros to appreciate the value of involving an expert in the planning, budgeting and customer needs assessment alleviates the need for designers to get into the ‘weeds.’ The successful collaborations will operate with a level of trust that will take time to build.

“We are on the cusp of greater adoption of technology solutions for the home. It’s an exciting time for the industry, one that’s filled with innovations that enhance and improve how we live. We’re pleased to help facilitate the industry’s business growth, education and connections through CEDIA Expo, KBIS and Design & Construction Week.”

Great Room

THE ULTIMATE LIVE PRESENTATION of residential technology is planned for September 1-3, 2021 as CEDIA Expo is staged in Indianapolis; the home of the CEDIA association headquarters. One of attendees’ favorite locations, this is the first time in 10 years the show has graced the Circle City.

The CEDIA Expo show floor will feature hundreds of leading technology manufacturers including Crestron, ELAN, Harman Luxury Audio Group, Lutron, Samsung, Savant, SnapAV, Sound United, and Universal Remote Control, among many others.

New show areas will include exhibit and content pavilions for connected living, wellness, and work-from-home solutions, as well as an innovations showcase for new-to-market companies and an industry trends Smart Stage.

CEDIA will continue to provide the most comprehensive and unsurpassed conference curriculum with industry experts leading courses for all levels and across all areas of residential technology and business leadership.

Brian Pagel, EVP of Emerald, owners of CEDIA Expo, said, “We are making plans to build upon our efforts from CEDIA Expo 2019 and CEDIA Expo Virtual 2020 where we’ve increased our focus on inviting designers, architects and builders
to the show to connect with integrators, tech designers, and exhibitors through thought leadership sessions, content and educational programming offered by CEDIA, and show floor exhibits and demonstrations highlighting the growing intersection of home design and connected living technologies,
products and solutions.”

Emerald reiterated that the health, safety and overall wellbeing
of their communities, customers and team members is always of the utmost importance. Brian said that as the company cautiously prepares for the reopening of in-person
events, they will be organized in accordance with the company’s Preparedness, Prevention and Response plan, a comprehensive, multi-layered approach to ensure the highest levels of hygiene and safety. In fact, to date, Emerald has produced two successful and safe in-person shows in 2021.

Registration opens on June 9, 2021, and you can learn more at cediaexpo.com.