The International Home + Housewares Show: where foodies, cooks, drunks and design nerds meet to show off the latest and greatest in fringe products for the household. This is where you would go if you had some dazzling new culinary product, design concept, or tabletop doodad, but perhaps not the resources to advertise it. While there are a few major brands here—KitchenAid, Meyer, Krups, Thermos—most of the show is an opportunity for small-time inventors and startups to show off their goods in a highly visible environment—and perhaps leave with a branding deal. Indeed, many lucrative contracts are signed here, such that the wariness toward the press is understandable. (The man who shouted at me for taking a photo and then demanded an apology was less understandable.)
But this is what makes the IHHS so cool: It’s where great ideas go to flourish, and so-so ones to die. Even the bad products have interesting, colorful displays—never before have we been so dazzled by a wall of Teflon skillets. There are window cleaning robots and DIY bread-making kits, magnetic induction cookware and glass-blown corkscrews. There are cooking demonstrations by the likes of Ming Tsai and Top Chef contestant Sarah Grueneberg, and then there are knives—so many knives—sharp enough to slice through a block of salt (more on that later.)
The IHH is so diverse and visually stunning that we decided to open our coverage with a gallery. Take a look at what this year’s show has to offer, and be sure to return for continuing video and editorial coverage from Chicago.