In 1883, John Michael Kohler made a breakthrough. By applying an enamel coating to a cast-iron horse trough, the immigrant entrepreneur and Kohler founder developed an innovative modern bathtub that changed the decade-old company’s course, transforming a modest Wisconsin iron foundry into a global leader in kitchens and baths, hospitality spaces and sustainable design. This year, the firm celebrates its 150th anniversary — and its heritage of innovation — series of special events and activations around the world, including limited-edition product releases, commemorative apparel and digital storytelling, all under the banner of Come All Creators.
“Bold moves and an entrepreneurial spirit are in our DNA and have deep meaning within our organization — starting with our founder John Michael Kohler who formed our company in Wisconsin together with an immigrant workforce creating new and better lives for their families,” says Chair and CEO David Kohler, the fourth generation of Kohler family leadership. “As we celebrate our 150 years of achievements, learnings, and growth, we encourage all passionate creators to join our pursuit of continuous improvement in providing gracious living for future generations through better design, innovation, wellness, and sustainability.”
Featuring a new creative identity of logos, typography and lettering developed by American designer — and frequent Kohler collaborator — Daniel Arsham, the broad-ranging Come All Creators draws inspiration from Kohler’s storied past while driving towards a more equitable and sustainable future.
Appropriately, the initiative includes timely new editions of iconic designs. Set to launch this summer, the recently announced Kohler Heritage Classics re-introduces two vibrant colourways, 1927’s Spring Green and 1934’s Peachblow, in a limited-edition release. Chosen from a public poll that drew over 100,000 votes, the revived hues feel as fresh and timely as ever. In the early 20th century, Kohler became the first company to bring vivid colour into America’s kitchens and bathrooms — manifesting a heritage of boldness and innovation that remains central to the company’s ethos.
The elegantly playful colours aren’t limited to kitchens and bathrooms. This year, the Kohler selection of energy-efficient home generators is also expanded with new tones and patterns. Transforming the humble backup generator into an understated aesthetic showpiece, 10 new exclusive colours — and a trio of mossy oak camouflage patterns — elevate a technology seldom associated with high design.
A spirit of adventure continues to define the brand. This year, Kohler partnered with explorer Robert Swan — the only person to walk to both of the earth’s poles — in a trek to the earth’s Geographic South Pole. On January 10, Swan reached the planet’s southernmost point, relying solely on Kohler’s renewable energy solutions. Embodying forward-thinking ingenuity while honouring the past, the expedition paid tribute to Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, who also relied exclusively on Kohler generators to power his journey in 1929.
While a culture of pushing the envelope to achieve technical excellence is foundational to the Kohler ethos, the brand is also fundamentally defined by daring design. Led by Herb Kohler and introduced in the early 1970s, “The Bold Look of Kohler” advertisements re-challenged public perceptions of bathrooms as utilitarian spaces, championing expressive, stylish and sophisticated design. The iconic campaign captured the zeitgeist, with the 1980s “Toilet in the Road” ads proving a lasting highlight. In 2023, the memorable 80s concept is revived, this time starring the award-winning — and water-saving — Numi 2.0 smart toilet.
From the Kohler family to the diverse range of partners like Arsham, Swan and designers around the globe, the brand’s spirit of collaborative innovation is at the heart of Come All Creators. And so too is the company’s commitment to sustainability and social good, encapsulated by the Believing in Better campaign.
“The ingenuity and passion of our associates and customers are the catalysts to creating new ideas, effective partnerships, and a better world for future generations,” says Chief Sustainability and DEI Officer, Laura Kohler. “Looking back on Kohler’s many pioneering milestones inspires us to look forward and create new avenues to improve our planet, our lives and communities – one idea, one product, one partnership, one act of impact at a time.”
This content was published by Azure on behalf of Kohler.
The Wisconsin-based company celebrates its 150th anniversary with a tribute to the spirit of collaboration – and bold design.