IHA Design event shows off innovation

The International Housewares Association (IHA) recently hosted a Discover Design media event in New York City Oct. 21 aimed at showing off exciting new housewares products coming out soon with a focus on design.

Twenty-seven companies featured their latest and greatest in the Rhinelander Ballroom of the Hilton New York.

“At this time of year, I find that a lot of the companies that are here are focused on design,” said Lisa Casey Weiss, Lifestyles consultant for the IHA.

Weiss said that while many companies offer functional products that meet consumer needs, interesting and compelling designs can often give products a definitive edge.

“The product itself is functional. That’s the idea when you purchase a housewares product -- it’s supposed to do something for you. Design is the added benefit. It differentiates products from others, it differentiates yourself from your competitors, and it catches the consumer’s eye on the sales floor,” she said.

Weiss also emphasized the importance of the housewares category in the hardware and hardlines retail environment, which can often create a one-stop shopping experience for consumers.

“There is a market for consumers when they go to a hardware store. They're also looking for housewares items. It’s a natural mix between the two items. People are working inside and outside the home,” she said.

Norwood, Mass.-based Boston Warehouse, whose slogan is “putting the Fun in functional,” featured its new line of garden tools called Garden Goddess. The stainless steel and aluminum construction tool collection features a set of garden shears, fork, trowel and a watering can, each sporting a colorful floral design.

“They’re garden tools, but they’re really well designed. They have a little bit of a flare to them, they’re whimsical, they’re fun,” said Weiss.

Charleston, S.C.-based AM Conservation Group was also on hand to showcase its latest energy-saving plug and outlet covers. Focused on energy conservation, the Plug Guard Wall Plate Cover is designed to upgrade outlet covers to a new clean design that saves energy. The plate cover not only insulates and seals out drafts, it keeps unoccupied outlets covered for added child safety with spring-activated doors that shut automatically. The company’s Universal Wall Plate Thermometer also features built-in insulation and includes a built-in thermometer to help homeowners keep their homes within energy-saving temperature ranges. The thermometer fits both toggle- and decora-type switches and features a 360-degree swiveling thermometer to display Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures.

Congers, N.Y-based Casabella showcased its latest designs in cleaning supplies. The company featured the Moon Mop, so named because of its crescent moon-shaped cleaning head, which combines a 360-degree swivel action to get into corners, around legs and behind toilets with ease. The mopping surface has a washable and reusable micro fiber sponge head with easy glide technology, allowing for a water-only, chemical-free cleaning solution.

Israel-based Epilady, known for personal grooming products, showcased a new flea removal device for pets called the Flea Zapper. Designed to replace chemical and toxic colors and gels, the Flea Zapper detects and destroys fleas on contact simply by combing it through dry hair. When the electronic comb touches fleas, they get zapped, die and are combed out of the hair.

Wisconsin-based La Crosse Technology featured its new line of The Weather Channel-branded weather gauges, like the Lollipop Garden Thermometer and Cascading Ice Cube Rain Gauge. The company also featured a line of wireless gauges, including a wireless digital rain gauge with a self-emptying rain bucket.

The preview show was just a warmup to the IHA’s upcoming 2011 Housewares Design Awards, which will take place Feb. 2.