Herbert V. Kohler, executive chairman of Kohler Co. known for transforming the company founded by his grandfather into a global and diverse family of businesses, passed away September 3, 2022, at age 83. For Kohler, a dynamic innovator and entrepreneur, product design wasn’t solely a career—it was his passion. Colleagues recall that during Kohler’s 61-year tenure, his personal mission was “to create delight,” stressing the importance of infusing each creation with a sense of joy.
And joy, in many ways, is the thread that ties together his decades-long career. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Kohler shared his enthusiasm for the brand by launching THE BOLD LOOK OF KOHLER campaign, transforming kitchens and bathrooms—once conceived as strictly utilitarian spaces—into statements of design and craftsmanship. As part of the campaign, the brand launched a collection of sleek toilets, bathtubs, sinks and fixtures in vibrant hues, demonstrating the endless possibilities of design alongside imaginative, consumer-focused ads. The idea that kitchen and bath products can and should create statements in a home went on to become the company’s guiding philosophy, melding function and form.