More than 2,130 exhibitors showcased their newest and most innovative designs for the recent 2013 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago. Technology played a big role this year, with clever technology hidden inside all manner of household items. Also on display were space-saving and convertible products made to serve multiple purposes and take up minimal space. Here are a few of our favorite picks from the show. --LARA EWEN. Special to Newsday
Streamline your utensil drawer with the Magnetic Measuring Spoon set from iSi ($8.95), which also won an innovation award this year. The four-piece set nestles together magnetically, and each spoon sits flat on a counter for simplified measuring. The slim design of the spout is made of a flexible material that fits easily into small openings, and each translucent spoon is marked with a half-line for half-measurements. Available from pre-order on amazon.com.
See yourself in a whole new light with the Sensor Mirror from simplehuman ($200, with a five-year warranty), which won an innovation award at the show. The bright LED light ring mimics natural sunlight, and the distortion-free lens reflects evenly and consistently. The light senses when you're ready for your close up and turns on, shutting itself off when you leave. Rechargeable and cordless, the five-times magnification mirror can go anywhere, and it's fully tiltable, so you can see every angle of your beautiful visage. Available from simplehuman .com, and at Brookstone and Bed Bath & Beyond next month.
Move easily and elegantly from your stovetop to your oven to your table with pans and pots from the Casteline Removable Handle Collection from Cristel ($199.95 to $309.95). The bases are made from alternating aluminum and 18/10 stainless steel, which is supposed to provide heat dispersal for the entire dishwasher-safe collection. The handles are removable, which allows for both streamlined tabletop presentation and space-saving cabinet storage. Available at broadwaypanhandler.com.
Technology has now eliminated the need to have a proverbial green thumb. Even those with no indoor gardening skills can fill their homes with plants using the Click and Grow system ($79 for a starter kit; $19.90 for refills). The clever battery-operated electronic smartpot will provide the exact amount of water, fertilizer and air needed to keep your plants and flowers flourishing, and all you need to do is refill the reservoir once a month or so and remember to change the batteries. Available from clickandgrow.com.
Keep your coffee close and your computer safe with this new line of desk mugs and travel mugs (shown) from Mighty Mug ($14.99-$19.99). A patented Smartgrip technology uses a vacuum seal to lock the product in place on any smooth, flat surface, but also allows the mug to be easily lifted. Available in multiple colors, including a stainless-steel version, from themightymug.com.
Pets are naturally attracted to running water, and design-savvy homeowners are naturally attracted to sleek stainless steel. Pioneer Pet has ingeniously combined the two to create the Raindrop Drinking Fountain ($69.99 for 60-ounce size; $89.99 for 96-ounce size). Winner of an innovation award in the pet products category, the fountain features a dishwasher-safe stainless-steel bowl and a replaceable charcoal filter to keep the running water clean. Operates via a 6-foot-long power cord. Available at Petco and Petco.com.
This is an age when people can get robots to do their dirty work. Case in point: Grillbot ($99.95), a grill cleaning robot. With three electric motors, a built-in timer and an onboard computer that regulates speed and direction, this rechargeable device makes quick work of grimy grills. It comes in red, blue, black or yellow, and is available for pre-orders now (first orders expected to ship in mid-July) from grillbots.com.
Keep your hands out of harm's way while getting every last slice out of your food with the Pull'n Slice Mandoline from Chef'n Corp. ($49.95). Winner of an innovation award at the show, the device keeps food stationary while protecting fingers with a safety hood that gets pushed and pulled along the blade to slice. It's equipped with four thickness settings and straight, French fry and julienne blades. Available at Williams-Sonoma and williams-sonoma.com.
Take your lunch and your place mat with you in one convenient package with the FlatBox-LunchBox from Solvetta ($19.99), which won an innovation award. This washable neoprene bag stands about 18 inches high, and unfolds to create its own 18-by-18-inch place mat. It will be available in five colors, beginning in July, from solvetta.com.
Indoor vertical gardeners can try out this new modular wall-mounted system from Urbio ($15 to $175). Each recycled plastic vessel magnetically attaches to an individually mounted wall plate, allowing for an easily customizable planting solution. Filled with pumice, soil and herbs or succulents (not included), or even just used as a sleek storage solution, this system provides a simple way to turn any wall into a work of vertical art. Available at myurbio.com.