Attendees look at Kohler's display of colorful toilets at KBIS

A Welcoming Booth Vibe Helps Kohler Celebrate 150 Years and Earn Top Honors at KBIS

Three attendees look at the Kohler Stillness Infinity Experience Bath

Kohler presented its Stillness Infinity Experience Bath at KBIS, complete with special lighting, scent and video effects.

For a legacy brand like Kohler, the message is as much about looking back as it is looking forward. At the industry’s largest annual trade event, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), Jan. 30 through Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, Kohler married the past and the future with the message “Come All Creators” and a design chiefly inspired by its 150th anniversary campaign.

The 15,000-square-foot booth, with features like real running water recirculating throughout, housed product launches, showcases of Kohler’s family of brands, spotlights on creator collaborations over the years, retro throwbacks and a full slate of content programming. Lighting above threw off soft hues from the Heritage Color collection, while LED walls, gold accents and botanical touches all pointed to the booth’s main themes—heritage, sustainability, trends and technology.

Throughout the booth, the team incorporated products from the Kohler vault, like a clawfoot bathtub from the 1930s. There were also free-standing displays that told stories of different creators Kohler has collaborated with over the years, including one with photographer Douglas Friedman, who this year helped Kohler recreate the iconic 1980s print ad he shot, “Toilet in the Road,” as part of the launch of the Kohler’s Numi 2.0 smart toilet.

Togg_CES2023_Full footprintTRADE SHOW TRENDS:

For family-owned Kohler, which owns a five-diamond resort, Destination Kohler, in its hometown of Kohler, Wisconsin, hospitality is a differentiator. So, in addition to enjoying complimentary espressos or sparkling water, attendees were offered chocolates handcrafted by the resort’s chocolatier.

“For us, it’s important to create and foster a relationship first, then the conversation comes naturally—this approach goes back to that five-diamond aspect of our brand,” says Anna Rendel, senior project manager at Kohler Co.

Kohler's booth with bathtubs, toilets and greenery

The booth brought together products from the Kohler vault, free-standing displays featuring creators and the Heritage Color collection.

To that end, the brand installed lead-generating self-scanners that allowed attendees to share information at their leisure or with booth staff. A Shop the Showroom feature accessed by scanning QR codes in the space allowed attendees to shop products right off the show floor from a microsite and purchase them—a new feature for the brand’s booth at KBIS.

The booth’s main stage featured a slate of television and industry designers and experts, from past Kohler collaborator Jonathan Adler to representatives of America’s Test Kitchen, who conducted food demos within a kitchen suite that featured a new ceiling mount faucet system called Purist Suspend by Kohler. Laura Kohler, chief sustainability officer and DEI officer at Kohler, also made an appearance.

The program also included the grand reveal of two colors in the Heritage Color collection voted on by the public that the brand will bring back into production (Peachblow and Spring Green). The celebration included a champagne toast led by designer and former House Beautiful editor-in-chef Sophie Donelson and Kohler CEO David Kohler.

“One thing that is typically hard to get right in booths of this size is that you need a lot of input from different people, because it’s like a mini store we’re designing,” Rendel says. “So, we ask ourselves if the storytelling is consistent, what the calls to action across the space are, what design palettes we’ll use, the colors, the materials, and the finishes. And we make sure the spaces tell an individual story while remaining cohesive, tying back to the overarching theme of the booth.”

Kohler ultimately earned the Best in Show title out of more than 600 exhibitors at the show—its first top win ever at KBIS. And in keeping with the brand’s sustainability mission, the exhibit was dismantled to be used for demonstrations and additional content. Partners: Freeman and 3D Exhibits (design, build), 3D Exhibits (design, build) and ConceptWorks (design, build).

Wide angle view of Kohler's booth at KBIS

Kohler’s 15,000-square-foot booth honored the past as part of its 150th anniversary campaign, while looking to the future with the message “Come All Creators.”

Photo credit: Kohler

Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
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