KOHLER, WIS. — Kitchen and bath products designer and manufacturer Kohler Co. launched a new retail concept — the KOHLER Experience Center — at 6 West 22nd St. in New York City May 24. It will house fully functioning displays of Kohler’s global product line — showers, tubs, sinks and toilets — a first for both the industry and for the Kohler brand. This will enable trade professionals such as plumbing contractors, wholesalers and design professionals to test and source Kohler products.
Kohler Co. plans to launch a total of nine KECs over the next year to meet the global demand. In addition to the New York opening, London will immediately follow, along with Los Angeles, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, New Delhi and Taipei opening later in the year.
“Our Kohler Experience Centers build upon the success of our Signature Stores and will uniquely provide a deeper immersion into our product offerings for trade professionals sourcing and selecting the best products for any project, wherever it may be in the world,” said David Kohler, president and chief executive officer of Kohler Co.
At the New York City flagship located in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, each touch point of the 10,000 sq.-ft. space — from more than 20 kitchen and bath vignettes and the Artist Editions Gallery, to the art displayed in the storefront window — is designed to connect and inspire. The Experience Center within the KEC is the only private bathing space in New York City where guests can exclusively experience Kohler’s offering of products such as Real Rain, the DTV+ digital showering system, VibrAcoustic hydrotherapy, and a range of showerheads and intelligent toilets.
KEC NYC will be open seven days a week, welcoming walk-ins from both consumers and trade professionals. It will be run and operated in partnership with Best Plumbing Supply, a Kohler plumbing distributor in the Northeast.
“Our partnership with Kohler Co. spans nearly 50 years,” says Kymberly Weiner, New York City sales and development manager of Best Plumbing Supply. “It’s a tremendous honor to elevate our collaboration to one that will best inspire and serve consumers and design professionals through a shopping experience rooted in Kohler’s spirit of gracious living.”
To best serve design professionals, KEC will also offer a new Kohler global specification service, which will for the first time allow professional architects and designers working on international projects to have instant, hands-on access to all products across the company’s entire global portfolio. A team of experts will be stationed on-site to help source and resolve complex plumbing projects both in the United States and around the world. By-appointment videoconferencing also will be available, connecting customers with the full network of company product experts across its international markets.
“We recognized a tremendous need across the industry for a deeper knowledge and insight into how our products work,” said Larry Yuen, Kohler Co. president of the global Kitchen & Bath Group. “From a plumbing perspective, the products that work in a bathroom in Milan are acutely different from those that need to work in a hotel in Dubai, for instance. Our goal with the KEC is to provide design professionals with both the ability to source and resolve all plumbing needs on a global scale from any KEC location.”
Kallista and Robern, two brands from the Kohler Co. decorative products sector, will also call KEC home. Kallista plumbing products will have a dedicated space, offering an elevated, shop-within-shop retail experience. The latest Robern vanities, cabinets and lighted mirrors will be incorporated throughout the KEC bathroom vignettes.
Each KEC will also serve as an art exhibit space for select pieces from the permanent collection of Kohler Co. and its renowned Arts/Industry program through the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which fosters the intersection of art and the industrial process. Since its founding in 1974, the program has hosted more than 500 resident artists from around the world at the manufacturer’s global headquarters in Kohler, Wis., where in its pottery and foundry, they are immersed in a new creative medium.