Interview with Kohler’s Sandeep Singh: Latest Trends, Innovation, Technology and Plans for the Future

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Arabian Gazette’s interview with Sandeep Singh, Commercial Director – Kitchen & Bath, Kohler Middle East, where he shares his views and insights on the company’s design principle, the impact of technology, latest trends in bath and kitchen designs, new product launches and the market.

ALSO READ: How Kohler is Evolving with Sustainability at the Forefront

Here are the excerpts…

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design” is Kohler’s mantra. How is Kohler identifying and shaping today’s consumer’s choice for trendy designs?

At Kohler, innovation has been in our DNA since the beginning, and we are passionate about the creative process. Innovation is at the intersection where form and function
– the materials and ingenuity that make Kohler-made products great. We meld the finest attributes of design, innovation and quality craftsmanship to provide our
customers with products that deliver functionality, convenience and an enjoyable experience.

We identify and shape today’s consumer’s choice by asking the question, “How do we want the consumer to feel?” Before we even to start to think about the product, we think
about the experience that we are trying to create. We are designing emotions.

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In one of his earlier interviews, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kohler Company, Mr. Karger David Kohler mentioned Design Leadership as a company strategy. How much of an influence is technology having an impact on Kohler’s products that we see today and in the future?

Technology will continue to push our industry to new discoveries, defy limitations and extend the possibilities of what is possible in regards to convenience,
functionality and use of space in the kitchen and the bathroom.

For more than a decade now, we have brought to market several proprietary technologically advanced products – such as our DTV+ digital showering system, Numi and
Veil intelligent toilets, Sensate touchless kitchen faucet with response technology, Continuous Clean System, Moxie in-Shower portable speaker and first to industry
Ombré PVC dual finishes- to name a few.

KOHLER_Numi Intelligent Toilet
KOHLER_Numi Intelligent Toilet

Now with the advancements in consumer technologies, we are able to launch the most complete “smart bathroom” solution possible. Our new Kohler Konnect portfolio of
smart home products offers consumers the ability to personalize their experiences and bring voice control into the space with many of our most innovative products
including custom showering, toilets, mirrors, lighting, baths and kitchen faucet.

Our first Kohler Konnect product that recently launched is the Verdera Voice Lighted Mirror with Amazon Alexa embedded into the product. The Kohler Verdera Voice
mirror introduces voice-command technology into the bathroom for the first time in a seamless, integrated design.

What is Kohler’s growth story in this region?

Our growth mainly comes from the Saudi and UAE markets. Other important markets are Bahrain, Oman and Jordan. The main focus is on hospitality projects. We have recently won many projects in the region including Hilton Salwa Hotel in Qatar, which will be the largest resort in the world.

In addition to hospitality, growth comes from residential projects. We have installed our products at various private palaces in Saudi Arabia and UAE. We have also targeted commercial projects and won projects such as the Emirates National Schools in UAE and ADNOC Headquarters and Villas.

What are the latest trends in bath and kitchen designs?

There are 3 main trends:

Technology in bathrooms

We have launched our Kohler Konnect system – one of the company’s newest bathroom systems. The system allows for easy control of smart bathroom gadgets through a
handy mobile app. It provides a foundation to develop and apply Internet technologies in the kitchen and bathroom industry. More than one users can have access to
Kohler Konnect to customize temperature and system settings.

One scenario with the system could be when any user sits down on a toilet, the heater/air purifier automatically turns on; and after a steam shower the heater/air
purifier automatically kicks off ventilation. Users can also receive alerts when the bathtub is full, as well as warnings about water leaks or breaks — all delivered
through the mobile app.

Black Velvet Bathroom

We have brought back the Black velvet bathroom where all fixtures are black and sleek in design.

PVD Finishes

We have added new finishes to our PVD selection. Now our brassware, can be in 13 different finishes – from polished to matte, black to bronze – which comes with a
lifetime warranty.

Does a typical Middle Eastern customer preference and taste for design vary from their global counterparts? if so, how?

The Middle East tends to be a design savvy and luxury driven market that is experience driven. Trendsetters are cultural omnivores – mixing eastern / western / European
design vernacular with their own culture. Newer city infrastructures and builds equate to smarter cities and latest leading edge integrated tech. High concentration
of Muslim population equates to particular bathing and hygiene rituals – that is wellbeing focused and spending considerable money on health and beauty products and

Spectrum of Modernism and layered luxury are being practiced everywhere in interior design. The Burj al Arab’s gold-cladded ‘Gold on 27’ bar by Keane Brands is a
great example. A fair amount of Western and European brands are also drawing inspiration from ME to speak to the younger population that seeks to blend their
cultural heritage with their global design sensibilities, such as British Designer Bethan Gray in her Shamsian Collection.

Tell us about Kohler’s business here in the Middle East. What are some of your most popular products?

The Middle East region is of great interest to Kohler.

The diversity of the markets in the region and the type of projects offer us an opportunity to tackle some of the world’s interesting challenges when it comes to
creating a customized, luxuriously comfortable bathroom experience that meets the Arabian taste and the desire for sustainable products.

We have various products that were designed based on market research:

Kohler Artist Edition Marrakesh on Camber under-mount bathroom sink

This beautiful sink is named for the ancient capital of Morocco. The Marrakesh design was inspired by Moorish architecture found in this magical city that once
served as a stop along a major trade route to the famous Timbuktu. The design on this Camber basin evokes the mosaics found in Moroccan courtyards.

Kohler Konnect

We have launched our Kohler Konnect system – one of the company’s newest bathroom systems. The system allows for easy control of smart bathroom gadgets through a
handy mobile app. It provides a foundation to develop and apply Internet technologies in the kitchen and bathroom industry.

3-Litre Flush Toilet

We introduced the innovative 3L flushing technology system for floor-mounted and wall-hung Western water closets to meet Saudi Arabian Standards Organization (SASO)

The toilet is an eco-friendly and water-saving product to help tackling the regions water issues.

How do you see competition in this region? and how does Kohler stand apart from the competition?

As a privately held global lifestyle brand, Kohler distinguishes itself among the rest because of our unwavering commitment to invest in new product development and
craftsmanship, enabling us to remain on the leading edge of design and technology and to hone in on the advancements that optimize the consumer experience in kitchen
and bathroom spaces. We continue to reinvest over 90% of our profit back into our business to support the long-term expansion plan, and therefore have a vision that
carries far into the future.

What are you plans for the region in 2019?

We are expanding in the region with our showrooms and product portfolio. We have recently opened our new concept showroom in Dubai Design District and another one in
Abu Dhabi.

As for new products, Kohler has always been a leader in the industry. We are focusing on our launches of Kohler Konnect and our sustainable products.

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