Kohler is an incredibly well-known and regarded brand, mostly for its bathroom and plumbing products. However, for some time now you may have seen Kohler branding itself under ambitions terms and creating aesthetically and technologically ambitious products; “The Bold Look of Kohler” tagline is probably familiar.
Kohler is an incredible success story, co-founded in Wisconsin in 1873 by Austrian immigrant John Michael Kohler. Anyone would recognize their wordmark on a sink, tub or toilet but they have shown great skill at defining higher end fixtures and artful home necessities as well. For example, in the early 2000s Kohler and its distribution partners began opening branded stores and they were so successful that they were able to spin off a higher end store, The KOHLER Signature Store, by 2012. Both the classic, entry-level brand and the more designful and cutting edge brand continue to expand simultaneously.
This has resulted in Kohler expanding beyond its gigantic .com site as well. A visit to Kohler.com will show you just how global and ubiquitous the brand is. There is a lot of content on their main site but it doesn’t seem to have succeeded in clearly creating a content-driven conversation where stories and inspiration are pushed instead of individual products.
Enter kohler.design – an entirely distinct destination that picks up on its Bold. Art. campaign and connects it with content aimed at its higher end brand.
There is a nearly daily stream of content, categorized in various ways such as “Green,” “Design,” “Tech.” There is also a prominent focus at meeting the Kohler team at exhibitions around the world, from Design Basel to Green Build to The Hotel Show, Dubai.
The site also showcases its Bold. Art. campaign and gives it a space to develop further. In 2015, the KOHLER Bold. Art. program showcased six Southeast Asian artists, inviting them to submit sculptural art to a show that traveled across the region. The second version of the program was launched in late 2016, doubling the amount of artists featured and focusing on Middle Eastern and Pacific Asian artists; it is scheduled to travel the world in 2017 and 2018. The Kohler.design site includes profiles of all artists and their work. This traveling exhibit is done independent from their participation at the aforementioned global exhibitions.
Just like the brand and its main .com site, the Kohler.design site is ambitious. It is interesting from our perspective at .design that Kohler is not using it as a place to seed design team recruiting, such as what we see at facebook.design, booking.design and other examples but rather to develop a new content heavy destination to tie to the higher end of their brand. The site itself makes its aims abundantly clear, with the word “Designful.” given the most prominent placement on the homepage.