Color, Material,
& Finish Trends
at IHA 2016

Each spring in Chicago, thousands of brands, buyers, and trade specialists gather at the International Home + Housewares Show to spot — or become — the next big thing in your kitchen, closet, or bathroom.

Arguably the best place to spy the newest trends in color, material, and finish (CMF) on the market, the Housewares Show has become an extremely accurate barometer for the course of the market for several years out. 

The CMF trends on display this year showed some interesting diversity, but there was also unexpected overlap between trends that wouldn't seem to go together on paper. 

The Resurgence of the 1970s

The inspiration of the 70s was apparent in a number of palettes, particularly in shades of brown and avocado green. The era's range of oranges and yellows were also common sights, but additions like soft pinks and bright whites kept the palette from devolving into full-blown retro nostalgia.

A return in popularity of wood veneer on appliances also harkens back to the trends of that decade, though the best applications were seen on more contemporary forms.



  1. Brita
  2. Opinel
  3. Enrico Products
  4. Joseph Joseph
  5. Stadler Form
  6. Objecto

A Rainbow of Pastels

Pastels came in a variety of tones, from muted and naturalistic to candy-colored and shiny.

The more muted tones were usually also paired with a limited selection of equally muted darker tones, or with bright colors that provided sharp contrast to the quiet palette.

Teal and red-orange were popular as bright accent colors, though they could also be found outside of these pastel palettes as well.



  1. Sencor
  2. Eva Solo
  3. Bosign
  4. Umbra
  5. DoveWare

Metallic Finishes in an Array of Tones

After the trendiness of rose gold over the past several years, brands are setting their sights on metallic colors even farther afield.

Ranges of natural metal tones are being paired with one another — like bronze, pewter, and hematite — but bolder colors like pinks and teals are also being utilized. 



  1. Design Ideas
  2. Design Ideas
  3. Mr. Coffee
  4. Argent Orfèvres
  5. Columbian Home Products

Matte Black

Flat black finishes provided a subtle and high-end style to products from a wide assortment of categories, including cookware, tableware, and appliances.

It's also proving to be a surprisingly flexible color/finish trend, showing up in pairings with each of the show's other prominent CMF trends.

  1. Degrenne Paris
  2. Argent Orfèvres
  3. NAEO
  4. Bodum
  5. SteamOne

Lack of Connection

After observing such a heavy focus on connectivity (or, the Internet of Things / IoT) at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, it came as a surprise that we had to actively seek out IoT offerings in this venue.

Few and far between, the connected products we saw were plain silly at worst, and in need of better integration even when they were better thought out. A strategic approach to a brand's connectivity wasn't the required trend we expected it to be, particularly in light of the show's theme this year — "It's smART" — which turned out to be a confusing reference to the intersection of business and design rather than the more obvious nod to smart homes.

The lack of products on display for such a trending topic in technology may just be a telling sign of projects still in motion behind the venue's many closed doors. Here's hoping that strategic connectivity makes a fittingly grand debut at the 2017 show.

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