Kohler and the Arts
Kohler Co.’s support of the arts stems in part, from the value of art in industry. This philosophy is underscored by the craftsmanship and artistic innovation that characterize the company’s plumbing products as well as functional art used in people’s homes every day.
At Kohler Co., the importance of art is evident as soon as one steps through the doors of the company’s headquarters in Kohler, Wisconsin. Here, a series of murals adorn the walls depicting the labors of the foundry workers. Throughout the main campus grounds and buildings are various pieces from the Kohler Arts/Industry Program.
The Arts/Industry Program is collaboration between Kohler Co. and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, USA. Commissioned artists spend two to six months in the Kohler Co. factory creating works of art using the industrial materials, equipment and expertise of Kohler manufacturing associates.
Since 1974, more than 400 artists-in-residence have worked in the Wisconsin Pottery, Iron and Brass Foundries and Enamel Shop.
The donated art is exhibited at the JMKAC and throughout Kohler’s Wisconsin campus. In 2009, the collection made its first global debut in China, where 18 pieces were displayed for an exhibit at the notable 798 Art Zone in Beijing. Additional exhibits are scheduled throughout China.
The McGuire furniture company of Kohler, based in San Francisco, California, recycles its reusable materials. Scraps from the materials used to design its fine furniture – including fabric pieces, obsolete fasteners, and damaged stone and glass – are treasured by the NIAD Art Center, a nonprofit organization offering arts programs and employment opportunities to people with disabilities. Even scraps of leftover fabric become someone’s creative outlet – and ultimately so much more.