The Great Kohler Experience

Our designer's deep dive into the world of Kohler products

When Murphy Bros. specifies products, it’s based on decades of first-hand experience and ongoing education. While it is helpful to read about new products in brochures and view them in supplier showrooms, we take our responsibility a giant step further by trying products personally, so our clients’ homes are never mistaken for test labs.

Design vignette, specialty designers portray the latest fee-standing matte finish tub, which is a new product from Kohler.

Foundry buildings where they make the stand alone tubs.

That’s why Murphy Bros. recently sent design/build consultant, Cherie Poissant, to Kohler, Wisconsin, for a long weekend at what is known in the industry as the "Kohler Experience." To be clear, our design/build consultant was actually "invited" to attend as the "Kohler Experience" is by invitation only. So, it's a pretty big deal even for a seasoned pro like Poissant. For three days, Cherie not only observed how Kohler products are made but also got to try them out first hand. She learned a great deal about quality differences in Kohler products as compared to other competitors so she could share that knowledge with the rest of the Murphy Bros. team and clients.

“There’s no substitute for personal experience,” Cherie remarked, who was impressed by the shear size of the Kohler manufacturing and design campus, "The place is absolutely enormous."

Whistling Straights Golf Course from club house.

"It was great to be able to try out a variety of tubs, body sprays and rain shower heads. "Incidentally, It's good to know that all the tub manufacturers, including Kohler, have overcome the black mold that used to collect in the hidden plumbing in those early models," explained Poissant.

The history of Kohler was very interesting, turning a feed trough into a bathtub—Cherie.

Kohler Cimmaron, on the right, is glazed all the way through the trap, so it is less likely to clog than the unglazed models, left, from another manufacturers.

Kohler is focusing on skirted toilet bottoms and flush mounting caps that look sleek and are easier to clean. She was impressed by Kohler's water-conserving 1.28 gpf toilets that deliver reliable one-flush results. But she is not yet sold on smart toilets that rinse and dry, warm your feet and auto flush. Same for touch-free bathroom faucets.

Here's an example of hidden electrical in cabinet vanities.

Cherie was also impressed by Kohler’s commitment to automation and quality control, as evidenced by the robotic arms that guide cast iron tub through triple-pass enamel firing in 1,750 degree ovens and barcodes that allow each person in the manufacturing process to electronically “sign” each piece.

This Kohler demonstration showed cast iron sink durability. As you can see the pan got the worst of the demonstration. The sink won't chip or scratch.

We love to see the new Titanium finish and other offerings from Kohler in person.

On the whole, Murphy Bros. designers continue to be impressed by Kohler’s commitment to the aesthetics and art. Kohler has a program where artists who qualify can spend three months working in the foundry crafting art pieces. In fact, art informs Cherie’s viewpoint toward Kohler’s elegant but pricey freestanding tubs. She says you should look at it like buying a piece of art. A freestanding tub makes a design statement and can bring daily pleasure even if it only gets used a couple of times a month.

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