KOHLER: Creative Space Planning / Retail Design

The untapped potential of a bathroom showroom.

We created a premier destination for architects to work, socialise and review the latest products and innovations from Kohler. By elevating an existing retail space in Clerkenwell we revitalised a cramped bathroom showroom into the 'Kohler Experience Centre’

KOHLER is a brand creating amazing bathrooms, admired for their quality products and inspirational designs. Top-end toilets, sumptuous sinks and beautiful baths – often seen in the homes of the rich and famous, selling largely to architects and design professionals commissioning bathrooms for hotels, luxury homes and apartments.

Despite being much-loved in the USA, KOHLER was not on the radar of UK design professionals, so the brand decided that they needed to make a big splash in the EMEA bathroom market!

Impact Retail got the exciting challenge to transform a cramped bathroom showroom in Clerkenwell, London into the first UK KOHLER Experience Centre. This would be a space where architects could come together to meet other professionals and plan their next fantastic bathroom project.

Kohler branded taxi parked outside the Kohler Experience Centre

 

Elevate the Retail Environment

Beautiful bathrooms, innovative design, quality products – a KOHLER bathroom is aspirational, something special. However, the KOHLER building in Clerkenwell looked like a run-of-the-mill high street showroom, a long way from the quality, bespoke space the company aspired to have.

Taps and sinks were located in separate parts of the showroom and the most interesting and eye-catching products were hidden at the rear of the space. In addition, walls running through the centre of the shop floor created dark corners and prevented logical flow for clients as they struggled to properly compare products.

In-store shot of Kohler products on display with dark blue/black floral wallpaper behind

As well as better showcasing product ranges, KOHLER wanted the space for social events and for architects to be able to think about what they needed and talk to experts.

The new store needed to be an inspirational working environment that architects would choose to spend time in, coming to the KOHLER Experience Centre to meet, plan, work and have coffee – rather than going to a trendy cafe!

Kohler Experience center attendee interacting with Impact Retail in-store product demonstration

“We needed a bright and airy gallery-like area, where professionals could view, experience and touch KOHLER products on display. An area to foster inspiration and freedom of design. Welcoming, with tools and resources that make the life of a professional project specifier easier.”

KOHLER

Space, Layout & Light

After visiting the site our design team were able to see through the muddle of the existing layout and imagine what could be done to meet the needs of design-savvy architects. Our lead retail designer saw a characterful building, with great potential to create an experiential space which totally reflected the ethos of the KOHLER brand.

With the benefit of experience our retail design team were able to conceptualise how to use the budget to best effect. Ripping everything out was not an option. Every aspect of the space, including; lighting, flooring, walls and product positioning were carefully assessed to understand which elements could be reworked or repositioned rather than removed.

The design process started by creating some simple renders that demonstrated how to change the physical layout of the space.

Basins and mirror displays displayed within the Kohler Experience Centre

“We needed a bright and airy gallery-like area, where professionals could view, experience and touch KOHLER products on display. An area to foster inspiration and freedom of design. Welcoming, with tools and resources that make the life of a professional project specifier easier.”

KOHLER

Our designer took the KOHLER team through different layout iterations, each time layering in more detail in relation to lighting, social areas, colours, product placement and brand messaging – gradually the vision of the KOHLER Experience Centre began to emerge.

By removing some of the central walls and opening up the space we created a flexible area large enough for architects to spread out plans and blueprints, review designs and discuss ideas whilst browsing the numerous products on display around them.

The space could also be used to host events, easily swapping from a daytime working environment to a stylish area for serving drinks and canapés at evening functions.

The structural changes massively improved the light, feel and flow of the space. We then worked on grouping products together, with specific areas for taps, basin and toilets so clients could easily compare what’s on offer making the viewing process more straightforward.

We also worked with KOHLER to understand how they would talk to architects in the space. Where would they sit? What types of conversations would take place in different parts of the showroom? Where should the brochures be situated? Getting into this level of detail helped to give us absolute confidence that the layout and design of the retail space best met the needs of the client’s sales process, as well as fulfilling the brief to create an amazing brand experience and working environment for architects.

“Whether we were thinking about sales or brand experience – throughout everything we kept our focus on space planning and movement through the space ... it’s easy to lose sight of this and just get lost in tap arrangements.”

Lee, Retail Designer, Impact Retail

Wide shot of Kohler Experience Centre displaying various bathtubs and basins, as design by Impact Retail

Waterfall project on wall with various products on display

Looking through waterfall display while people talk at the Clerkenwell showroom launch party

The UK KOHLER Experience Centre

Clerkenwell in London is now the European flagship store and is being used as intended as a welcoming space for architects and industry experts to browse products and exchange knowledge.

“A truly elevated brand experience; combining design, art and architecture in a multi-sensory space to create a more intimate understanding of our products and services.”

KOHLER