While every tradeshow can feel overwhelming as a first-timer, or like the same-old, same-old after you’ve attended enough of them, savvy attendees of industry shows know to keep a look out for the new, the unusual and the recurring themes – as they dictate the present as well as the future of building and design.
In June, I attended the AIA Conference on Architecture 2019, hosted this year in Las Vegas, and these are the five show-floor trends that architects, builders and remodelers were buzzing about.
AIA Conference on Architecture 2019
June 6–8, 2019
Las Vegas, NV
Black, white, brushed aluminum, and light-colored wood continued to dominate the show this year. In the past, we saw a lot of black in the contemporary collections, but it’s fully saturated throughout transitional and traditional styles now. With the show being in Las Vegas, these West Coast Contemporary colors, materials, and finishes were seen in full force throughout almost every single booth showing windows and doors.
The trend of blending indoor and outdoor spaces as much as possible continues to grow in size capabilities and product offerings. Manufacturers were showing on average 10- to 12-foot doors, whereas only a few years ago we were all only dreaming of them becoming that big and available for the mainstream residential market. The most impressive door was Panoramah!’s aluminum sliding door, which replaced one side of a bright red shipping container for a show statement.
Within one contemporary trend, the show floor featured some new and unique corner window units. Corner units can create a design statement within the home because they enhance your home with a wider view, while also increasing the light quantity pouring into the home, providing health and wellness benefits.
However, no one has yet mastered the disappearing corner unit while also ensuring structural strength and energy efficiency. In conversations with modern and minimalist Architects, I learned they want a corner mullion to be as small as possible where the two windows meet, for a clear and unobstructed view.
There were quite a few manufacturers marketing the eco-friendly side of their products and offering ways to incorporate renewable materials, reduce project waste, and find alternatives to concrete and steel. This is where engineered timber construction has started to push the boundaries in windows and doors. It can compete with traditional materials, and it’s starting to be featured in large-scale projects. This shift is driving more innovation into material sciences, and it’s incredibly fun to watch the new projects exploring this technology.
On a different facet in the sustainability conversations, glass companies were showing frit and UV films for bird safety. Since people cannot see UV light, the UV films allow us to see through the glass; however, that same film can help reduce the number of birds flying into the glass, because they perceive it as a surface.
There was a notable amount of automation shown on the floor – skylights, windows, and large multi-slide doors are now equipped to be hardwired into the electrical systems for easy opening and closing through a hardwired switch.
I also noted a company called Branch Technology that is focused on bringing highly complex structures to reality through 3D printing, which, while not a mainstream technology or style right now, might become a market differentiator. This has the potential to change the conversation around architecture – for example, if windows and doors need to start fitting into curved walls, or become installed at a different time of the building process, what might that look like, both structurally and aesthetically?
The Sherwin Williams booth featured something interactive and unique to the show: a headband that registered the wearer’s brainwaves and turned them into a personalized color palette. At their post-show event, this idea became more experiential, using an interactive display on an 8’x8’ touchscreen. Guests could choose different colors and mix them together to create a digital piece of abstract art. After your time ran out, you picked your favorite color from your art piece and then that became your unique color swatch.
That’s a wrap.
With the 2019 show in the past, I’m looking forward to seeing these trends evolve and become incorporated into buildings, products, and design.
Jennifer Tuetken is senior industrial designer with Pella Corporation’s Strategic Innovation team.
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