December 5, 2016
KBB recently had the pleasure of attending the Kohler Signature Store by PDI opening in Atlanta. The space – in the city’s high-end Buckhead neighborhood – is Kohler’s first venture into the Southeast and its 13th store across the U.S. and Canada.
“When we look at locations, we look at markets where we have strong distributor partnerships to make the expansion of the Signature Store concept a true success,” said Kohler CEO David Kohler. “With PDI being a well-established company in the Southeast, opening a Signature Store in Atlanta was a natural fit and part of our strategic plan.”
The idea behind each Signature Store is to wow visitors at the entry and then work through the various product categories via vignettes, inspiration areas and tile presentations – and this location surely delivers. Customers have the ability to see, touch and experience the full line of Kohler products, including Robern, Kallista and Kohler Surfaces. The Atlanta location also specializes in several lighting brands with which PDI has working relationships.
Design and Layout Ideas
The store opens up onto several suites designed to inspire visitors with complete bathroom solutions. This area also features some key artisan pieces, such as the company’s Artist Editions sinks. A chandelier highlighting the entrance pays homage to the store’s lighting connection as well. Once customers have some ideas as to what designs they like, the space then leads to various product categories, including tiles, toilets, showerheads, sinks and faucets – with a special room dedicated to the Kallista line of products in the back.
Each vignette is designed around a series of macro and micro trends – with two or three prevalent in each. According to Kristin Dedering, senior project architect of showrooms for Kohler, the design team selected those relevant to the Atlanta area – smoky sultry, soft contemporary, metallic and gold tones. One suite explores texture on different shades of white, and another exudes pale blue and gray neutrals, and a rich black and white combination rounds out the collection.
So that customers can see how everything operates, all of the stores feature working displays that encourage them to test out products. The location features a performance shower area so that visitors can feel different sprays to see what a spa experience would feel like in their own home. Two working tubs allow users to feel the difference between a whirlpool and bubble massage.
According to Brian Goehle, manager of architecture & interior design for Kohler, this location takes it a step further and educates consumers and professionals alike to see what a series of valves looks like installed in a wall and how the whole system comes to life. iPads in the suites connect online to the Kohler products – and the variations available – in each one. A large media wall scrolls Kohler content and can also be used to look at CAD drawings, work on floor plans and look up product specs.
Each Kohler Signature Store caters to both professionals in the design industry and homeowners and features a variety of design services, including product selection, design development, project assistance, creating drawings or working with blueprints.
“No matter if you have many years of professional experience as a designer, contractor or remodeler – or if you are a homeowner embarking on your first bath or kitchen project – the staff in Atlanta and at Signature Stores throughout the country will provide services to meet the your needs,” said Kohler.
According to Goehle, the Kohler Signature Store by PDI has four designers on staff – trained by Kohler Corp., who can walk through the entire process with a customer and lead them through the design-making process. The space was also designed to be able to accommodate a variety of events, including educational sessions and Houzz presentations for the plumbing industry and the opening-night party recently hosted.
- Fab Favorites. Dedering’s favorite part of this location is the performance of the front-entry space that leads to the suites and ensemble walls. She also loves the way the finishes turned out in the Kallista room and feels the area represents the product very nicely. Goehle loves the engaging visual of the front window people receive when walking through the shopping plaza – especially at night.
- Welcome to Atlanta. This store, as well as each of the other 12, features design elements and trends popular to the city in which it is located. After some market data research, it was determined that Atlantans prefer traditional and transitional styles over contemporary, as well as polished nickel finishes – both of which can be seen in different areas of the store.
“We may only choose to use polished nickel in one vignette in a store, but since we found it was really poplar in Atlanta, we used it in two of the suites,” said Dedering.
- Artists Additions. Each location features a local artist who has taken part in Kohler’s Arts/Industry residency program at the Michael Kohler Arts Center. Artists-in-residence work at the Kohler Co. factory creating new work in the pottery or foundry. The Atlanta Signature Store celebrated Sunkoo Yuh at the trade opening. His work shows the transformation from interior ink and brush images to tangible ceramic sculptures.
According to Goehle, the biggest challenge of the project was the coordination of all the pieces and parts.
“Imagine building 10 master bathrooms – that in itself is very intricate,” he explained. “The coordination of the medicine cabinets, sconces, tub drains, supplies in the wall and then staging it properly – it’s a lot of work behind the scenes getting everything there on time.
Another trial was that the permitting process took a month longer than planned.
“We roll these stores out across the country and go with our best guess from previous projects, but every experience is unique,” said Goehle.
According to the design team, they are always looking at how to design the stores more effectively in terms of space and cost. Whether it be a better performance shower area or telling a better technology story, they are always making some improvements after the fact.
“A lot of credit goes to PDI – they invested a lot of time and went above and beyond,” said Goehle. “The contractor also had a lot of passion for the detail, which is another reason it turned out as well as it did.”
According to Kohler, two more Signature Stores will open this month in Paramus, N.J., and King of Prussia, Pa., with an extensive list of store openings throughout the U.S. and Canada in 2017 and beyond.
– By Chelsie Butler
Kohler Brands Displayed
Kallista, Kohler, Kohler Surfaces, Robern
Lighting Brands Displayed
Corbett, Currey & Co., Craftmade/Jeremiah/Teiber, Crystorama, Elk Lighting, Hinkley, Hubbardton Forge, Hudson Valley, LBL, Legrand/Adorne, Light Bulbs/Bulbrite, Murray Feiss, Norwell, Robert Abbey, Schonbek, Sonneman, Tech Lighting