As we walked the halls of the 2019 International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place earlier this month, we were surprised by how much hasn’t changed.
Yes, we know this is a story about the latest housewares trends and the products that will be coming your way later this year. But what really struck us is how some things are exactly the same: Coffee and all the appliances necessary to make barista-level coffee took up a huge amount of space, but nothing seemed particularly new or different. There was the usual surfeit of companies hawking melamine tableware in all sorts of colors and patterns. And, new versions of ordinary but useful home appliances designed to make your Instagrams pop, like hair dryers, hair straighteners, makeup kits, and mini-studio makeup lights.
But there are some new ideas that reflect how both how differently Millennials and Gen Z think about the world and the effect that is having on Baby Boomers. Here’s our list of top trends from the 2019 International Home and Housewares Show:
- Multi-functional appliances. Once they move out of their parents’ home, Millennials tend to choose smaller homes, and that’s affecting the types of appliances and housewares they buy and how they store them. With smaller living quarters, you can’t afford to buy a single appliance do one thing. Today, lots of appliances are multi-functional. The most popular item we saw was a Multi-Pot. The idea is to cook a full meal, or at least a couple of different parts of it, simultaneously, in one pot. There are dozens of versions of this idea manufactured all over the world, include a variety of options from InstaPot, Aroma’s MultiCooker, and IH Robot Cooker (which has nothing to do with robots or artificial intelligence).
- Micro-appliances. Sometimes appliances don’t do more than one thing. But they’re designed to do that one thing for one person. Micro-appliances: Waffle makers that make a single, small waffle, for example, popped up everywhere.
- All in one storage containers. We were also surprised to see the number of companies that have created containers and storage devices that allow people to carry around with them a full meal on the go. Some of these insulated containers had separate compartments for three distinct food groups: hot soup, a sandwich, and a slice of pie can all be put into one container, but each food type has its own storage unit and can be hot or cold without interfering with the other foods.
- Containers Smarter Than a 5th Grader. In this same line, some storage devices or containers, like the new Thermos with smart lid, contain electronics designed to sync with your phone or watch and track your food and liquid intake. So, no more cheating on the amount of water you drink.
- Everything Folds Up. From food dehydrators that completely flatten down and laundry baskets that fold up to tables that raise up with the touch of a button, it’s clear that Millennials and Gen
Zersare trying to fit more into smaller spaces. We were amazed at the number of ordinary household products that have been re-engineered to fit into smaller spaces.
- CBD Everywhere. Whether you’re in the legalize camp or totally opposed to it, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-THC parts of the marijuana plant are coming to housewares items near you. At the show, we were interested to see CBD oil sprays and infusers in many products, but especially in air diffusers, purification and filtration systems.
- Grow Your Own Everything. We’ve seen a number of systems over the years that allow you to grow your own vegetables and herbs over the years, but this year there seemed to be even more options. Several, including
Aspara, by GrowGreen, offer LED lighting with variable spectrum and built-in sensors that help you know when to add water to the system. Growing systems don’t come cheap, by the way. Expect your home-grown organic letter grower to run anywhere from $100 to $500.
- The Appliance of the Year: Air Fryer. It’s tough to make great french fries at home. And, all that oil makes a mess. But, it’s easier if you’re using an air fryer, which, alongside the multi-pot, was ubiquitous at this year’s show. We tried some of the french fries and they weren’t too bad: Crunchy all the way through. Not sure it’s enough to get us to buy one more appliance. After all, Ilyce still hasn’t taken her InstaPot out of the box.