22nd February 2021 | Behind the scenes
Founded in 1873, KOHLER began as a small foundry, casting metal farm equipment in the state of Wisconsin. 147 years later KOHLER are one of the leading sanitary ware manufacturers globally. Their story is unique, in 1883 John Michael Kohler decided to apply enamel to a cast-iron horse trough and in doing so, created the company’s first bathtub.
One could argue that this initial moment of creative innovation set a precedent for the progressive and forward-thinking company they are today. Sustainability is the next mission for KOHLER, they aim to be completely carbon neutral by 2025, so for this issue of Curiosity Bites we take a deep-dive into a couple of their sustainability projects.
WasteLAB, as the name suggests, explores what can be done with waste. The excess material and scraps that are accrued during the manufacturing process of the company’s products are experimented with in the hope of creating something new out of what would be simply thrown away. With such heavy environmental factors involved in producing large quantities of waste, KOHLER looked to nature itself as inspiration for a solution–
“Within nature’s cycles of growth and decay, waste simply doesn’t exist. Our work in the WasteLAB applies the systems we find in nature to our manufacturing process.”
And the fruits of this labour are now being enjoyed, the WasteLAB initiative produced a new collection of handmade tiles, the Crackle Collection, which are available in a wide range of bold colours.
Design for Environment
Design for Environment is another KOHLER project that aims to do exactly what it says on the tin; design products in a way that is as friendly to the environment as possible. Keys factors for this type of design revolve around renewable materials, waste reduction and using as little water as possible.
The water-saving toilet is an example of one of KOHLER’s more recent Design for Environment projects. The science behind the flush is not something most people spend much time thinking about, this is not the case for KOHLER however. The delicate balance between hygiene and water conservation was carefully reviewed by the Design for Environment designers and the end result requires less cleaning and uses as little excess water as possible.
KOHLER Clarity is a unique water filtration system developed by KOHLER to remove 99% of bacteria, viruses and chlorine, ensuring safe drinking water. A daily necessity that more than 2.1 billion people worldwide lack.
In 2016 KOHLER Clarity began to directly engage in aid efforts for disaster relief, providing whole communities with safe drinking water. KOHLER work alongside social enterprises and NGO’s to provide people globally with the KOHLER Clarity filtration system, allowing them access to safe drinking water in their homes.