The reason we’re here in Kohler, WI should be hitting you as sharp as a local cheddar by now. Cindy Allen, editor in chief, said it well: "It's about YOU, and love for what you designers do. It’s a love affair. The amazing light you're seeing here in Kohler is the same light you give us and what we try to put in the magazine every month." It's true—the magic of the unique setting has bowled us over. Add nearly 100 leading designers gathered in an elegant contemporary headquarters designed by Gensler, plus the amazing history of Kohler Co. , and you’re in for a treat. Here’s a look at the kickoff of the first-ever Kohler Design Affair .
Following opening remarks by Allen, Todd Heiser of Gensler spoke regarding the firm's design for the new Kohler headquarters, which Interior Design published in 2014 . "The three schemes we presented were very contemporary," says Heiser, "and they were open to something different. They knew the tides were changing. New people from London or New York were all bringing their own voices to the middle of Wisconsin." The designers brought their vision to life with storytelling through materials—the circles in the Corten steel crowning the Beacon building reference dewdrops on grass, while the reclaimed wood on a conference room wall comes from the site's demolished barn.
Kohler president and CEO David Kohler followed Heiser and drove home the company's passion for the creative process. "We’re on an odyssey as a company. After 142 years, we want to continue to design and build the most amazing company we can," says Kohler. "We need your feedback on what we can do to provide a better palette of textures, materials and products." After a riveting dive into the manufacturer's history, Kohler looked to the future by outlining initiatives such as the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge , the Kohler Clarity filtration system for developing countries, and the company's expansion into Brazil, Indonesia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The evening's final speaker, Candy Chang, opened with a reference to Joseph Paxton, who translated the structure and strength of water lily pads into his design for the iconic Crystal Palace exhibition hall in 1851. Says Chang, "He was curious, he tried things out, and he kept an open mind—that is the core of how good things develop." Her talk linking design, art, and personal growth was a powerful end note to a stellar first day at the first-ever Kohler Design Affair.