Big-brand no-shows may have tempered the buzz of this year’s Kitchen & Bath Industries Show, but the prevailing mood was surprisingly upbeat. Many manufacturers played it safe by expanding existing lines or reengineering them to improve water and energy efficiency, while others embraced superficiality: new finishes, textured surface treatments, and an emphasis on flush installations. — Jen Renzi

Royal flush
Blanco expanded its Steelart line with Precision MicroEdge, a suite of drop-in sinks that offer the look of custom flush-mount styles. Credit German engineering for its exceedingly minimal .05''-thin rim, which rises almost imperceptibly above the countertop. Sinks can be installed with mounting clips or in a traditional flush-mount manner. The nine designs, including single and double-bowl versions, are crafted from satin-polished stainless steel muffled by sound-dampening technology borrowed from the auto industry. Blanco America, Lumberton, N.J.

[Reader Service: July 2009 #212]


Uplifting news
Robern’s Uplift cabinet opens up rather than out, allowing the cabinet to be installed flush with bathroom countertops, and even directly behind faucets and pendants. The mirrored, 27''-tall door opens with the touch of two fingers on an aluminum handle and, thanks to a position-hold mechanism, can be stopped anywhere along the track. The 6''-deep unit comes in 30'', 36'', or 48'' widths and accommodates six outlets plus an LCD flat screen. Robern, Bristol, Pa.

[Reader Service: July 2009 #213]


Black is back
The vogue for black finishes in the bathroom continues unabated. Venerable U.K. label Samuel Heath went to the dark side, unveiling a beautiful obsidian finish option for its contemporary Xenon suite of faucets, shower components, and bathroom accessories. Crafted from sturdy hand-polished, chrome-plated European brass, the rich metal has a decidedly transitional character and a warm, matte finish that pairs well with wood or stone. Samuel Heath & Sons, New York City.

[Reader Service: July 2009 #214]


Sinks in
The downturn didn’t squelch Kohler’s creativity — or its productivity. Among its introductions were a high-tech yet price-conscious four-in-one showerhead, an evocative matte-white finish for sanitary ware, and innovative kitchen sink designs. Most striking was the Iron/Occasions (left), a monumental 39'' x 63'' cast-iron countertop with an integrated trough sink serviced by a pullout faucet. The weighty unit sits on standard cabinetry or a stainless-steel base. Kohler also gave its Alcott farmhouse-style sinks a makeover (inset), exploiting the apron front as a canvas for decoration: The fireclay forms are carved with geometric relief patterns in a variety of translucent glazes. Kohler, Kohler, Wis.

[Reader Service: July 2009 #215]

Dry times
Reducing paper-towel consumption, Japanese brand Toto’s recessed Clean Dry high-speed hand dryer uses a proprietary air-wicking technology to do its job in under 12 seconds. The brushed-chrome unit shuts on and off via an infrared sensor and uses a quarter less energy than traditional models. It is also ADA-compliant and quiet, too, with a low decibel rating of 62 decibels. Toto USA, Morrow, Ga.

[Reader Service: July 2009 #216]