So this post might seem like its totally out of left field but I just have to share. There is this fine line that we get to walk as a bloggers. I get to do really cool stuff with really awesome brands but I don’t usually talk about it here. Because honestly, how do you talk about these amazing experiences without coming across as braggy or like you are just talking about something because you feel obligated? Its dang near impossible. But today I just feel like I am going to burst if I don’t finally talk.
Confession. This is so weird. Every time I go into a public restroom and I see the Kohler mark on the toilet or sink it makes me grin like a fool. Seriously, do public restrooms do that to you? If they don’t, well then chances are you haven’t been to Kohler Wisconsin.
Last October (yep, this post is almost a year in the making) I had the opportunity to attend a brand event with Kohler. You know THE Kohler. Like creator of the bathtub as we know it, Kohler. Going into it I thought that it would be like any other trip, I had no idea that it would change me the way that it did. Still, almost a year later, I think about all the time. (I actually searched the MLS listings when I got back because I want to have a little house there for during the summer. Court thinks I am delusional because “How can he run the restaurant from Wisconsin?” Sigh.)
The Village of Kohler (that’s actually what it’s called, how cute is that??!) is absolute perfection. You know the feeling that you get when you go to Disneyland? Everything is thought out and completely beautiful and feels like it was plucked from a storybook? Kohler is like Disneyland but real. The village was master planned by Fredrick Olmstead (who also designed Central Park). Every house, every tree, every trash can fits together perfectly. The factories sit right in the center of the town in beautiful ivy covered brick buildings. It’s hard to put into words, it just feels so welcoming. I cant even imagine the dreaming and foresight that had to take place for a town to feel like this still, 100+ years after its creation.
The highlight of the trip (well, one of them) was the factory tour. The tours are given by retired employees, most of whom have spent their entire lives working in the factories. Their love for this place runs so deep its contagious!
The pottery factory is full of unfinished toilets and sinks and everything inside is white and has a fine layer of dust on it. Um. and how about those windows?! Natural light for days.
The Foundry (where they do all of the iron work and casting) is dark and loud and full of huge machinery. The stark contrast between the 2 buildings is incredible, as weird as this sounds, its super picturesque. Its just exactly what you picture it being.
The thing that surprised me (though it didn’t really looking back) was the attention to detail. Even a pock mark on a sink made it unworthy for a customer. The standard for quality is unimaginably high. (Which I guess is how you stay a leader for 100 years.)
The Design Center is the heart of the city. Its a mix of a showroom and a museum (both history and art) I loved seeing the trends from the past century. There was so much, and surprisingly so little that changed.
Yep, that is a giant wall of toilets and bathtubs.
We stayed at The American Club (it was originally a place for immigrant workers to stay and save money so that they could bring their families to the US). Its full of long dark paneled hallways, stained glass, tapestries, and natural gardens. If it wasn’t for the state of the art bathrooms (because of course) you would think that you’d been transported in time.
I guess the reason that this trip in particular impacted me so much is because the feeling of community and the standard for excellence permeates every facet of this little town and this company. I am dying to go back and take Court with me. Its so easy to dream of what could be in a place that IS a dream realized.
Its incredible to me that Kohler can be on the forefront of innovation while still holding so tightly to their heritage. Maybe its just me, but its easy to get so caught up in where you are going that you forget to stop and realize the beauty of where you’ve been.
They are just so unapologetically themselves.
Its inspiring. Inspiring enough that I have a fangirl moment every time I spot a Kohler product (even if its in a public restroom!) Because I know that even if to most its just a toilet, that its not just a toilet. It was made in this tiny town practically by hand and has 100+ years of creation and innovation behind it.
Ok I’ll get off my soap (errr. toilet?) box now . I feel like I just need to move so that I can start fresh and Kohler-ify everything in my house. Sounds like a pretty great plan! I’m dying to know, have you ever visited Kohler? Did you love it as much as I did? Should we all go on a trip?