‘Vibrant buzz’ at sold-out Chicago housewares show

The just-concluded 2019 International Home + Housewares Show is garnering rave reviews from the industry, according to its owner and operator International Housewares Association (IHA), with ‘an overall sentiment that the quality of buyer attendees was the strongest in years’.

The Show was sold-out with 2,205 exhibitors from 43 countries and featured a focus on smart and connected products and the specialty beverage movement.

Held from March 2 to March 5 at McCormick Place in Chicago, the exhibition was the last to be called ‘International Home + Housewares Show,’ as IHA is renaming the event in 2020 to ‘The Inspired Home Show, IHA’s Global Home + Housewares Market’.

IHA president Derek Miller said: “Over and over we heard from exhibitors that the quality of the buyers and attendance of key retailers was the best in years. Senior-level attendance from both retailers and suppliers was particularly strong. Exhibitors also noted strong international buyer attendance as well.”

He added that the new name for 2020 – and new dates of March 14 to March 17 – were “well-received by buyer and exhibitor attendees as the Show moves to a more lifestyle-focused event”. Derek explained: “Consumers drive retail purchases, and their lifestyles drive the things they buy. Design and function are no longer the sole reasons people purchase housewares products.

“The Inspired Home Show is taking things a step further, to help retailers understand how design and function fit into their customers’ lifestyles and to find ways to inspire them to purchase products that complement those lifestyles.”

The 2019 Show began early on Friday March 1 with the inaugural ‘The Inspired Home Influencer Conference’ bringing more than 145 social media influencers and bloggers to McCormick Place for educational sessions and speed-dating with more than 100 exhibitors. The influencers then stayed for the Show.

The focus on smart and connected products was highlighted in the IHA Smart Home Pavilion with three days of educational programming on the Smart Talks stage and a display by b8ta, a ‘retail as a service’ model designed to bring emerging technologies to market by making physical retail accessible to everyone. Sessions in the Smart Talks stage were video recorded and will be posted on IHA’s website at www.Housewares.org/education/video.

The specialty beverage movement was spotlighted in the Trending Today Preview before the Show opened on Saturday morning and in a special booth in the Wired + Well Expo. ‘A Celebration of Coffee’ featured coffee-making products and accessories from exhibitors, along with demonstrations and educational sessions from Counter Culture and the Specialty Coffee Association.

On trend

IHA said that among the trends seen at the Show were: products that allow consumers to express their own personality and tastes (including smart home products that can be customised to their personal needs) and items to help make specialty beverages and DIY kits for everything from bourbon to vegan cheese; ‘Bathleisure,’ which takes its cue from the athleisure trend by elevating the bathroom to a spa-like retreat; and the bathroom as the next smart home frontier.


IHA added that several categories ‘seem ready to explode’ based on the number of companies introducing their versions of these products at this year’s Show. They include products to improve home air quality (such as air purifiers, aroma diffusers and humidifiers), countertop multi-cookers, air fryers, and eco-friendly straws in a variety of colours and materials, with many offering additional features such as carrying cases and cleaning brushes.

Hot colours

Leatrice (Lee) Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and IHA’s colour expert, presented her annual colour forecast keynote speech at the Show. IHA reported that on the Show floor, a wide range of hues from the Pantone forecast were found. Robin’s egg blue appeared most frequently, followed by other pastel-like shades of mint green, light coral, pale pink and lemon yellow.

Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year of Living Coral was also prominent in exhibitors’ booths including Arrow Home Products’ glassware and serveware, Hamilton Beach’s personal blender with shield, KitchenAid’s stand mixer, Lynn’s Concepts Tuxton dinnerware and Stojo’s drinkware.

Mixed materials

Mixed materials were also found in many products, including several eco-friendly materials such as aprons made from recycled plastic, reusable food wrap made from beeswax and storage baskets from a new material called cellulose nanofiber.


The Innovation Theater offered a total of 21 presentations on the smart home and connected products, global consumer trends and omnichannel marketing. Audio and video recordings of the educational sessions are available at www.Housewares.org/education/presentations-webinars.


Next year, The Inspired Home Show, IHA’s Global Home + Housewares Market, will be held from March 14 to March 17 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Attendee registration and Show information is available at both www.TheInspiredHomeShow.com and www.Housewares.org.

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