Still our kind of town, Chicago is…

By Martin Griffiths May 29, 2018 International

The 2018 International Home + Housewares Show was full to the brim with innovation.

The 2018 International Home + Housewares Show garnered rave reviews from the industry with an overall feeling that the quality of buyers and sellers in Chicago was the strongest in years.

2018’s show space was sold out thanks to 2,244 exhibitors from 53 countries and again featured a focus on smart home and connected products. While this focus has remained unchanged over the previous couple of shows, it is hard to dispute the relevance of home connectivity which continues to expand and grow at an exponential rate.

“Even with the impact of the East Coast weather differential on Tuesday, we are very pleased with buyer attendance as 99% of the top 200 domestic retailers registered to attend, and international attendance was very close to last year’s record number,” says Phil Brandl, President & CEO of the International Housewares Association, adding that senior-level attendance from both retailers and suppliers was particularly strong.

The continued focus on smart and connected products saw the IHA Smart Home Pavilion grow in scale, with 28 new and current exhibitors displaying emerging technologies and the latest in smart and connected products.

On the subject of smart home, the Smart Talks stage featured 30-minute sessions with experts who discussed a variety of trends, including data security for businesses and consumers and tracking capabilities of product packaging, as well as new retail models for reaching consumers and strategies for developing and managing data-driven connected products and their services.

The sessions were live-streamed on IHA’s website and can still be viewed at



The 2018 show opened with previews on Saturday morning to give buyers an opportunity to see some of the 150 exhibitors before the show floor opened. The events attracted nearly 700 buyer and media attendees, increasing attendance over last year.

As always the show included a series of thought-provoking educational sessions, including keynote programs on colour and design trends including sessions from Lee Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute, a panel of thought leaders on smart kitchens and a retail panel examining innovation and marketing.

An exploration of the retail renaissance explored how retailers and brands alike need to focus on the customer experience to win over shoppers.

In addition, the Innovation Theater offered almost two dozen presentations on smart homes and connected products; age and gender marketing; and international retail and consumer lifestyle trends.

Audio and video recordings of the educational sessions are available at

The next International Home + Housewares Show will be held over 2-5 March 2019, again at McCormick Place in Chicago.

With the show offering first class educational and networking opportunities for both speciality retailers and corporate buyers, special exhibitions and creative displays and a full line-up of seminars on trends and design, visual merchandising and branding, retail success factors and consumer preferences, you should make the decision to attend early!

2019 attendee registration and additional show information are available at


Alldock charging multi-dock – Also seen at 2018’s IHHS: in a household of two parents and two children, you’re likely to see at least four smart devices that need recharging daily. Alldock was designed to reduce cable clutter during charging in an elegant, non-technical, gimmick-free form. The key feature involves plugging your smart device’s USB cable into the Alldock’s hidden multi-port power hub which supplies 2400mAh from each USB port so you can charge up to six devices fast and simultaneously. Alldock comes in a variety of styles and finishes, can mix & match accessories and can also cope with smartwatches.

Bartesian Capsule-Based Cocktail Machine – This is said to be the first ever home cocktail maker to use capsuled ingredients for premium cocktails. Three classic cocktail capsules are available including Cosmopolitan, Margarita, and Sex on the Beach. Just add the liquor (and water as needed) and the capsules (a mix of juices, bitters and liqueurs) provide the rest. The Bartesian is equipped with four reservoirs to store your favorite spirits for ready-to-make drinks at your convenience.

Sobro Smart Coffee Table – The Sobro Smart Coffee Table was designed in NYC by the team at StoreBound, a product innovation company. The Smart Coffee Table is an elevated version of the conventional coffee table, an all-in-one center that connects your "powered-up" life, says StoreBound. This charging coffee table includes two USB charging ports and four power outlets that allow you to keep devices nearby and fully powered. There's also an inbuilt mini fridge to store up to 32 cans of beer or chill a bottle of wine – or plenty of fruit and vegetables and purified water if you prefer. A touch control panel is built into the tempered glass top – no app required – there are Bluetooth speakers on each side and LED lights on the underside to create just the right mood...

Vitamix Perfect Blend Smart Scale – Place a Vitamix container on the scale, select a recipe from over 500 available recipes in the app, and follow real-time instructions to add ingredients without pre-measuring. It's great for easy cleanup. The Vitamix Perfect Blend App signals when enough of each ingredient has been added and can readjust quantities of subsequent ingredients if there’s too much or not enough. Then, it provides instructions on how to blend, both for how long and at what speed.

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