Kim’s Kohler Adventure

Staying on top of the latest and being knowledgeable about the industry is important to consistently create innovating, inspired design. Recently Kim Toms, senior designer and interior fixed finish expert, was invited to visit Kohler headquarters in Kohler, Wisconsin, to learn not only about the new offerings and the company’s storied history but also to have some fun along the way.

The trip was the perfect combination of education, style inspiration and hands-on appreciation.  The group got to stay at the renowned American Club. Just a little history on this special spot and company: more than a century ago Michael Kohler created a bathtub by adding feet and enamel to a cast-iron water trough. From that first tub, the company has become a household name. Before it became the plumbing powerhouse it is today, Kohler built a factory. Where there’s work, there are workers – who need housing. (Sounds pretty familiar, right?) The newly hired laborers needed a place to live.

Enter Walter J. Kohler, the company president who had the vision to house workers. In 1918, he built a sprawling Tudor-style building for his employees. Sixty years later, the new president envisioned making the housing into a luxury hotel with tons of amenities.

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Back to the Kohler tour. She spent a chunk of time learning and being trained on shower systems and toilets. One of the interesting aspects was Kohler’s upgraded digital showering system (it goes well beyond ‘just’ showering: it’s a complete package integrating water, sound, steam and light).  This is a top-of-the-line system technologically and aesthetically. It eliminates the need for multiple valve controls in a shower, which works really well for the homeowner who wants a contemporary look. Kim adds that this might be a great final, sleek touch to the detailing in a shower that might otherwise be riddled with knobs, levers and handles.

All work and no play… is not the Kohler way. Between learning, Kim got to play golf on the Pete Dye-designed Whistling Straights course, where sheep are free to roam…. Another unique aspect of the well-thought out Kohler plan.

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The next day was spent touring the Kohler Design Center, where hands-on is encouraged – and it’s clear they don’t take themselves too seriously. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want a bathtub-turned-sofa?!

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Although this educational clinic was only for professionals, the best of the best in the industry, people from around the world visit the Kohler headquarters to check out the design center and experience Kohler themselves – every faucet whether at the golf course or in the hotel are Kohler. What better way to decide what faucet works in your home?

Bottom line – if you are in the Midwest, it’s definitely worth the visit to Kohler. But, if you can’t make it to Wisconsin, visit with Kim who is up on the latest offerings…. And she’s been invited back as part of a very exclusive group of 16 in October and will tour Cambria headquarters in Minnesota as well.

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