Still our kind of town (Chicago is)

By NZHJ May 12, 2016 International News

We made our annual pilgrimage to Chicago to take in the 119th International Home + Housewares Show (IHHS).

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.

The 2016 International Home + Housewares Show received great reviews from buyers and sellers alike. The show was sold-out with 2,224 exhibitors from 47 countries with no less than 453 new exhibitors who attended the event for the first time.

Attendee numbers also reflected the importance the show still holds internationally, and saw 62,000 total visitors from around the globe.

“We are very pleased with U.S. and International buyer attendance, which were a virtual match with last year’s record numbers,” says Phil Brandl, President and CEO of the International Housewares Association, which owns and operates the Show. “This is very positive given the recent retraction at retail and the strength of the US dollar, which makes exporting more difficult.

2016 was a year of substantial transition with the complete rebranding of the Show to the new “It’s SMart” theme (mixing Smart and Mart, get it?), along with the re-categorisation and location of the Discover Design Expo to a new area.

The new Exhibitor Preview on Saturday morning attracted more than 500 buyer and media attendees, increasing attendance over last year.

This event offers buyers and media the opportunity to meet with 62 first-time exhibitors in advance of the official 10 am show opening and response from buyers was positive about this new feature.

The show once again also included a series of thought-provoking educational sessions, including keynote programs on colour and design trends, how the consumer’s emotions affect colour choices an overview of core consumer values and expectations, the impact of millennials on housewares and turning food shoppers into housewares buyers.

With more than one eye on future of homewares, the Innovation Theatre also offered 21 presentations on the Internet of Things, global shopping and retail and consumer lifestyle trends.

And by the way, audio and video recordings of the educational sessions are available at



More than 500 products were entered in the IHA Global Innovation Awards from which 60 finalists across all categories were chosen and featured in New Product Showcases throughout the show.

From these, a dazzling dozen houseware products, ranging from well-established brands to first-time exhibitors, were then singled out as winners and announced during the dinner on the first evening of the show:


  • Bath & Personal Care: Simplehuman for Spin Cabinet.
  • Cleaning: Kuhn Rikon for Stay Clean Scrubber.
  • Cook & Bakeware: Alessi USA for Pulcina.
  • Home Décor & Gifts: Eva Solo A/S for Window Birdfeeder.
  • Home Organization & Storage: Stasher for Stasher.
  • Household Electrics & Home Environment: Bruno SmartCan for Bruno SmartCan.
  • Kitchen Electrics: Aquarius Brands for AquaBoy Pro II.
  • Kitchen Hand Tools & Cutlery: Smith’s Consumer Products for Compact Digital Scale- Plastic.
  • Kitchenware: Prepara for Adjustable Oil Pourer.
  • Personal Care: Jobar International for Color Changing Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor.
  • Pet Products: Enchanted Home Pet for TheraCool Pet Mat.
  • Tabletop: Eva Solo A/S for My Flavor Carafe.


That’s what the experts said. Below we have also selected a few products that piqued our interest.

If any or all of this tickles your professional fancy, why not plan a visit for next year’s show?

The 2017 show dates are 18-21 March 2017 and the following website has all the information you could wish for to help you plan your visit.



 A pick of the most interesting IHHS products

Homeright ElectroLight Fire Starter – Designed to start charcoal and wood fires safely and easily. It uses super high temperature 1300°F air to ignite and then fan the flames with a built in blower. No need for lighter fluid and other starter chemicals. Advantages include a higher temperature output and greater airflow for faster fire starting and ergonomic design with soft-grip handle for comfort.


LaCrosse Technology Professional Weather Station – How about your own weather station? This product records temperature and humidity, wind, rain and lightning. With atomic time, perpetual calendar and indoor temperature with trend indicator, Weather Station also indicates heat index, dew point and lightning indicator with approximate distances.


Hinge Hanger – Connects to a door hinge, creating a stable and versatile structure that can support a variety of objects. Hinge Hanger has a wide variety of uses plus it holds everything from coats, hats, and bags to ribbon, paper towels and toilet paper. Hinge Hanger installs in seconds, creating storage space where you need it most.




KitchenIQ Plastic Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener – Sharpens knives to the original factory angle with three sharpening slots for finishing the knife edge and everyday light honing and maintenance of an already sharp knife, one with diamond stones for dull or damaged knives and a serrated slot for sharpening most styles of serrated knives. You simply select the desired angles and pull the knife through the slots a number of times depending on the blade’s sharpness or damage.


Igloo All-Terrain Trailmate Cooler – Cooler evolution brings us a game changing mobile product. Features oversized, 25cm never-flat wheels for superior ground clearance, exclusive glide technology with telescoping handle to reduce towing effort by 50% and Ultratherm insulated body and lid for prolonged cooling. Marine-grade, rust resistant materials also ensure performance and longevity.


SoundLamp Dimmable LED Light Bulb & Bluetooth Speaker – Combines the energy efficiency of a dimmable LED light with the high quality audio of a wireless Bluetooth speaker that you can control with any iOS or Android device including smartphone, tablet, computer, etc. SoundLamp has a master unit which can be synced with up to 6 satellite units.



Bradley Smart Smoker – This new automatic, electric food smoker features iSmoke Technology that allows you in real-time to connect with and control the smoker from Bluetooth-enabled devices or the touchscreen on the smoker. Bradley’s automatic feed system drops smouldering wood bisquettes into a bowl of water at regular intervals, extinguishing the wood when it turns to ash and making for cleaner burning and better flavour. With room for 10 racks of food it also has two removable temperature probes to measure heat in different areas simultaneously.

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