Where Science Meets Muse

Innovation and Design at the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2016


Just got back from one of my favorite shows, the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show.  It’s a great opportunity to see what’s new and cool in the world of housewares and home, in the kitchen and in people’s minds – what’s good for the eye, stomach, heart, and/or soul.  Below are some pics and descriptions of products that I found particularly innovative, beautiful, unique, and/or conversation evoking.  Occasionally I include the clever  – the product that takes a different tack to do something that’s already done extensively/commonly. This isn’t an all-inclusive list, but these really made me stop, pause and ponder.  They are in no particular order.  They are here because they deserve to be and they each have their own virtue.

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The Everplush company recycles cotton and more. They are leading the charge in ‘sustainable softness’.  This company is finding innovative ways of providing textiles that use embedded microfibers, jade, and lava rock powder to provide enhanced moisture wicking (without sacrificing comfort), cooling, and warmth retention, respectively.  I was impressed with the feel of these materials and the company is looking at ways of making their products even more ubiquitous.

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It seems that very few things are standardized in the world of blenders.  What caught my eye is that the Tribest folks utilized something that is standardized: the Mason Jar.  By doing that, you can blend, drink and store using standard jars.  No need to worry about plastic blending containers and cleaning.   It’s smart.

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I love tea.  I have an entire drawer filled with teas of all sorts as well as a gourd+silver decorated bombilla for savoring Yerba Mate.  World wide, tea is not just consumed, it’s experienced. Teforia  realizes this and their product is a beautiful and different way of approaching the consumption of tea.  The infuser ‘reads’ the package, and then knows what the best brewing sequence is for that particular tea.  It then adjusts temperatures and steep times to optimize the extraction of flavors from the tea.  I compared a green tea brewed typically and with the Teforia infuser.  The Teforia tea color was richer and the flavors layered and complex.  It was a pleasant dance upon my palate.



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Food Cycler

Love this.  The Food Cycler is an in-home composter.  Put your scraps into bucket and 3 hours later it’s reduced to a powdery, flakey compost that you can put in your garden.  Truly no fuss or muss or additives.  Great way to minimize landfill burdens and help create a more integrated home food waste disposal process.


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Pancake Bot

Do you like pancakes?  Check out the Pancake Bot.  It’s a food printer.  It doesn’t need to print in 3D because pancakes are well, 2D.  Upload your designs via an SD card and enjoy the pancakes.  Oh, if you don’t want pancakes, you can turn off the griddle and print 2D cake decorations on paper.  Go wild!

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These FlavorSheets bring simplicity and bold flavor together in a simple package.  Wrap the meat/fish in the sheet, vacuum seal it and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Take it out and the food is evenly seasoned and, the seasoning is not falling off when it’s thrown on the grill.  This makes great sense in sous-vide cooking as well.

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Molecule-R Aroma Technology

Do you want to create your own arugula noodles,  or savor a bite of fruit and merengue on a fork while simultaneously whiffing the aroma of vanilla, or create exotic drinks with green tea foam?  If so, joining the Molecule-R community might be right for you (It is for me!!! 🙂 ) Molecular gastronomy is revolutionizing how people experience food.  Once the domain of high powered chefs, it is now possible for homechefs to make and experience edible works of art.  Molecule-R provides kits and materials for those interested in molecular gastronomy.   They are an extremely helpful group and the kits seem well laid out.  Get your lab coats on and have fun with your food!

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This is simple beauty, courtesy of Ohashi.  I love the MAST humidifier.  Add water and the leaves of curved cypress release moisture.  These  Masu boxes, or variations of them, are made from discarded wood – beauty from that which would be thrown away. They are used for storage, as cups, and are designed and manufactured exquisitely.

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Continuing the beautiful, elegant theme, these tea settings from Zens radiate serenity and aromas of tea in their design. Simple yet profound…

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Mortier Pilon

While beer kits have been around for some time, and they are still being sold by great companies such as Mr. Beer, and Brooklyn Brewshop, the trend for making fermented things at home is expanding into fermented/pickled foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, pickles, Kefir, Kombucha or whatever else you’d like to get bubbling!  Fermented foods are good for you and fun to make.   Three different companies took three approaches.  Mortier Pilon is a fancier (and more expensive) system. Their couture mason jars (an oxymoron in some ways – these jars are too nice to be considered mason jars) add a touch of class to the fermenting stuff within.

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Fermentation Creation

Fermentation Creation takes a much more traditional approach, going for the homey look  while retaining  feel of a quality product.  Their kit comes with everything you need for one great price. Chop, Salt, Brine!  Literally, it’s that easy.  The folks at the booth were great as well!

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Microbiota, Inc

Microbiota is all about Kefir – both milk and water versions.  Their containers are pretty straightforward and basic and remind me of the way home brewing equipment looked when brewing first came on the scene. Functional but not much else.  Having said that, only a few years ago, it seemed the only people who knew what Kefir was were Eastern Europeans.  So the fact that this is at the show is impressive.

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Ever looked for a knife handle that fits perfectly with your hand?  NextGen Knives has analyzed the grip that chefs use, and made a handle that is more comfortable to accommodate that grip.  Then they took it one step further and figured out a way to customize knife handles by using a 2D scan of your hand and engineering the shape to give you a comfortable fit! These knives are Made in the United States and use specialty steel alloys for the blades.  This knife starts a long overdue conversation, not only about knife handle design, but kitchen utensil design, and brings 21st century technology into the manufacturing process.

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Water purification is still a worldwide concern.  I was impressed with BWT‘s technology.  It’s a  patented softening/filtration system that puts ionic magnesium into the water in place of the calcium.  Magnesium is an element that seems to be less and less prevalent in the food chain, yet it’s essential to our well being.  It also gets depleted from our bodies under stress, so anything that can help offset magnesium depletion is welcome!  This product actually makes hard water more palatable and less harsh. Easy to get, good tasting water that’s good for you — BONUS!

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At the other end of the filtering spectrum is AquaTru.  This product is a countertop Reverse-Osmosis (RO) system that can create water that is equal to bottled water in purity.  Their RO system delivers water that similar in mineral content to rainwater, and they offer ‘seasoning’ packets if you’d like to put minerals back into your water.  Making an RO system that can be placed on a counter top is no small technological achievement. Kudos!

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Chevalier Collection

The Chevalier aerators are a glass within a glass.  Only the inner glass has holes in it so as you pour, the wine gets aerated.  Check out their website.  It’s fun to watch and a video is worth a thousand pictures 🙂

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While Peugeot has an entire line of designed tasting glasses (check out their website), the whisky glass is part of the Les Impitoyables collection.  The raised center and low break on the glass provides for a much smoother waft of the Whisky aromas.  You can also purchase a metal disk that fits under the glass.  Put that in the fridge and it helps to cool the aromatics as well.  People at the booth said that people who normally didn’t like whisky were much more likely to experience it after sniffing the smoother aromas presented in this glass.

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I love seeing technologies adopted to other uses.  We all know how a bread toaster works.  The Wurster from Severin takes toaster technology and uses it to cook sausages!  Throw two brats, or hot dogs, or polish sausages, or whatever wieners you have, into the Wurster and it grills in a matter of minutes.  Fat drips off into a drip pan that sits at the bottom.  Clean and hot.

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Back to knives. We’ve all had the experience of cutting vegetables, or cheeses or meats and have them stick to the knife.  One way of fixing that would be to coat the knife surface with a non-stick material.  Then along came Ming Tsai and his  Aero knife.  By eliminating much of the surface area, his knives stick less while cutting.  However, eliminating material makes the blades flimsier.  So, the folks at Groovetech approached the problem from a different direction.  Rather than eliminating material, they changed the shape and added ridges. This minimizes surface area and eliminates a place for a vacuum to occur between the blade and the food.  This results in a non-stick knife that’s rigid and not coated with any substance.  An impressive design solution!

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MediCap Nutrition

This system from Medicap Nutrition is taking tea and coffee consumption to a new level.  They figure, if we are going to drink tea and coffee anyway, why not add herbs and vitamins to make the drinks healthier?  Right now they have drinks that provide slimming, energy, immune and detox benefits.   The containers are similar to those used in Keurig machines.  Unfortunately I was not able to sample any of their wares, but this is a platform that could, theoretically support every body system.  I’m looking forward to seeing this released in the United States.

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It’s clear that design is important to Cangshan Knives.  Made with German Steel these knives are a fruitful melding of East and West.  The knives are clean and elegant, balanced visually and haptically.

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When a company says something is biodegradable, we often assume that means it’ll decompose back into the earth in a couple of years.  The problem is that many biodegradable materials aren’t 100 percent biodegradable.  They are often mixed with petroleum based polymers with the end result that the product won’t disappear for over a hundred years. EcoSouLife doesn’t take the easy way out.  They’ve put some serious work into researching, designing and developing cups, plates, and various containers using palm leaf, corn starch, bamboo, husk and other plant materials that are 100 percent biodegradable.  The result?  Beautiful products that don’t feel cheap; products that will degrade in one to three years max once  buried in the ground.  Until then? Use it, Wash it, Use it…

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Specializing in accessories for wine lovers, these folks (Capabunga) have multiple ways of capping and sharing wines and champagnes.  This cap made it on my list because it’s a creative way to keep carbonation in champagne.  While most solutions insert something into an open bottle, this one has a clip on thread that sits below the rib that’s at the top of the bottle.  The cap then threads down over the top, creating a safe, airtight seal.  Sometimes more can be better.

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Thing Thing

Thing Thing is a Design/Manufacturing studio headquartered in Detroit, Michigan.  The holders, plates, coasters that you see here are actually hand-rolled, carved/machined recycled plastic.  Kudos to them for creating marbled beauty from ubiquitous ‘meh’.  (I’m personally hoping we can collaborate on a bonsai container for one of my trees 🙂 )



When you say “Tailgating” things like food, beer, and fun come to mind.  Beer giant, Budweiser, made the logical jump of partnering with Camerons to create this branded line of smokers and other types of tailgate wares.  People think of innovation as being something that solely happens with products.  This is a great example of business model innovation.  With this move, Budweiser expands its market beyond beer.  Smart move.



What would a show be without alittle whimsy?  Emson has these Disney licensed humidifiers.  Elsewhere there were Starwars Lamps and housewares.  They’re fun looking and fun is always cool in my books 🙂

So, there you have it!  My thoughts on some of the provocative products I saw at the International Home and Housewares Show.  This list isn’t all inclusive, but it gives you an idea of the types of things that are making waves in the world of design and innovation.

Were you there?  Do you have any favorites?  I’d love to hear from you!

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