A Closer Look at the KBIS 2024 DesignBites Winners

Published: March 22, 2024

The ultimate product showdown, this competition featured 10 top brands showcasing their latest product innovations in the hopes of winning the coveted “Brand with the Biggest Bite.” KBB spoke to the judges about what stood out to them regarding the overall winner – Flush Guard by FGI Industries – as well as the People’s Choice winner, FreePower for Countertop.

DesignBites judges and host

DesignBites was hosted by Michel Smith Boyd, founder of Atlanta-based Smith Boyd Interiors and television host. Judges included Danielle Blundell, executive home director at Apartment Therapy; John McClain, CEO and creative director at John McClain Design; and Sandra Diaz-Velasco, principal architect at Eolo A&I Design.

Flush Guard Judges’ Feedback

“As architects, we constantly navigate the complex landscape of liability risks. Having a product like Flush Guard that addresses one of our primary concerns – water leakage – not only enhances our confidence in specifying it but also contributes to our overall peace of mind during the design process. In essence, the Flush Guard exemplifies a convergence of practicality, innovation and fun – qualities that are invaluable in our profession.”

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– Sandra Diaz-Velasco, Principal Architect, Eolo A&I Design

DesignBites Winners flush guard toilet

“This product was not only innovative in its result, but the price point was appealing to a large audience as well. The design was simple, and the concept is easy for many people to grasp. Marketing wise, it was presented very creatively. I feel anything that will prevent a possible catastrophe like water damage is a great innovation. The fact that this toilet is again affordable and could prevent possibly thousands of dollars of damage is an innovation and a great market need for homes of any size or value.

John McClain, CEO & Creative Director, John McClain Design

flush guard infographic

“The three anti-overflow holes in these toilet bowls just seemed like a game-changer that could prevent so much costly damage to tile, etc., in a bathroom (in terms of both time and dollars). I also loved the humor Flush Guard was presented with – it made the product really feel like it was addressing a need and bringing a sense of calm to the world of bathrooms.

Danielle Blundell, Executive Home Director, Apartment Therapy

Barry Jacobs, SVP, product and e-commerce, for FGI

Winner’s Words

KBB also spoke to Barry Jacobs, SVP, product and e-commerce, for FGI, about the decision to enter the competition and the winning aftermath.

KBB: What made you decide to compete in this year’s DesignBites?
Jacobs: We feel that Flush Guard Anti-Overflow Toilets are not only hugely beneficial by preventing damage from toilet overflows but also that the marketing and branding is fun, interesting and hopefully effective at getting people’s attention and making them aware of our great solution.

KBB: What was the inspiration for the winning product?
Jacobs: It turns out that two-thirds of people have had a toilet overflow, and half of those had damage of more than $500. It’s a very common problem, especially for families with small children or property owners who deal with high-traffic toilets. Preventing overflows not only avoids the costs of cleanup and repairs, but it saves people from embarrassment and the hassle of cleaning up an unpleasant mess.

KBB: What has the exposure for your brand been like since this win?
Wonderful! We’ve been featured by consumer and trade media and are getting emails and phone calls from customers constantly, asking for more information and checking availability of our new Flush Guard toilets. Clearly, people are paying attention to the media around KBIS and watching for new and interesting products.

DesignBites winners Freepower

Judges’ Feedback on People’s Choice Winner

FreePower for Countertop was the chosen product by this year’s audience, and we heard from the judges on this innovative product as well.

“The seamless integration and installation stood out to me with FreePower for Countertop. When you add a layer of technology to a beautiful piece of stone or otherwise in the name of functionality, you still don’t want to be forced to compromise the natural beauty of the material. It didn’t seem like that would be the case here, and this charging device had a few bells and whistles — the illumination and color-changing capacities — that seemed fun but not too gimmicky.”


freepower for countertop

“While the overall concept is nothing completely new, it did have some original features. For instance, if you wave your device over the area, it will illuminate to show you the space where you can charge it. You can also change the color of the charging area.”


“The incorporation of an interactive light control feature is a notable innovation. Giving users the ability to control lighting adds a dynamic element to the product, enhancing user experience and functionality. Moreover, the freedom of placement for wireless charging, presented in an innovative manner, addresses a common challenge faced by designers – the aesthetic integration of power connectivity devices. This feature offers designers the flexibility to seamlessly integrate power sources into their designs, minimizing visual clutter and enhancing overall aesthetics.”

The other participating DesignBites Brands included EMPAVA, FORNO, Keeler Brass Co., LG Electronics, Link Cutting Boards, Moen, Neolith and Signature Kitchen Suite.

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