The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently released its final figures for the 2010 convention in Miami, and, as expected, fewer people attended compared to last year’s event. Still, the show offered a handful of cool product finds for residential and commercial installations.
The AIA meeting's product displays are, for the most part, geared toward the commercial market, but there were plenty of products that could go either way. An attendee with a good eye—or simply time to spend—could certainly sniff out a cool product or two that would be perfect for a custom home, remodel, or condo project.
As one exhibitor said, “The idea is that being here will cause inspiration for architects who might use something in their commercial work or their residential work.”
The dirty little secret about products, though, is that it’s not really up to the manufacturers. When has manufacturer Kawneer ever announced that its storefront framing could be used on a skyscraper as well as a house in the 'burbs? Never.
But architects seldom follow rules between what’s a "commercial" product and what can be used in a house. Kawneer often says it doesn’t do residential work, but that has not stopped architects such as Todd Walker in Memphis, and Jon Anderson in New Mexico from using similar systems on their houses. It is likely that some builders take such liberties with products as well.
So, some manufacturers at the AIA convention clearly intended to target residential professionals, be they architects or builders, telling journalists that they want their products to address challenges such as warping exterior wood doors, high-maintenance cladding, or inadequate performing lumber.
In that open-minded spirit, here is a collection of products which might find a place in your next home or solve a problem in another project, regardless of whether that happens be a house or a strip mall.
Nigel Maynard is senior editor, products, at BUILDER magazine.