Horse Trough.jpg

How bathing has progressed from humble beginnings to a luxury experience.

Bathing has been evident throughout history, and is possibly something that you enjoy every day. But have you ever wondered what inspired one of the earliest forms of the bath tub that we know today? At Kohler, our history is based on the forging of our very first cast iron bath.

We are well known for our quality and design, and our Kohler baths are synonymous with luxury bathrooms.

So, let us take you back to the start as we explore how far the Kohler bath tub has come.

In 1873, our founder, John Kohler, looked at a cast iron horse trough in rural Wisconsin and saw the potential for a bathing tub. The seed for Kohler’s first traditional cast iron bath was sown.

Ten years later in 1883 his idea was realised.

By heating a cast iron horse trough to 1700°F and sprinkling the surface with enamel powder, John created a ‘horse trough/hog scalder which, when furnished with four legs, will serve as a bathtub.’

We now recognise this as the first model of our iconic, roll top, cast iron Kohler bath.

John Kohler sold this first bathtub and Kohler was firmly in the plumbing business.

1911 Apron Front.jpg


From these humble beginnings came luxury bathroom innovation.

Heating and manipulating the cast iron led to new designs and an industry first.

This one-piece built-in Kohler bath with an integral apron front offered a more contemporary design which was installed directly on the floor.

1927 - pastel suites.jpg


A bold step forward! A technological breakthrough in applying colours to the enamel finish allowed us to offer cast iron and vitreous china designer bathroom suites in matching pastel colours. This led the trend for the soft palette of interiors seen in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

1969 shower bath.jpg


Interiors through the 1960s got progressively bolder with new materials and statement colours becoming the fashion.

Kohler shower and Kohler bath/shower combinations were made of coloured fibreglass-reinforced plastic. Forward-thinking in design, they gave people a compact yet designer bathroom suite in a single mould. This way of combining bathroom fixtures was functional yet looked strikingly modern.

1977 whirlpool bath.jpg


Bathing started to become more luxurious rather than functional. Luxury bathrooms demanded designer bathroom suites. The launch of Kohler’s whirlpool baths range didn’t just signal the first enamelled cast iron whirlpool bath, but it was also the first time that colour options were available to match other bathroom fixtures.

2001 - SOK.jpg


The iconic sok overflowing bath was designed for luxury bathrooms and offered the ultimate in indulgence and relaxation. The water used in the sok continually circulates while maintaining its temperature. It quickly became the benchmark in hydrotherapy bathing.

Two years later in 2003, Kohler launched these luxury bathroom products into the UK.

Seeing a bathing possibility in a horse trough, set the foundations for ingenuity and bespoke design for Kohler Co. and even today, our cast iron baths are handcrafted and created from this 80 percent recycled material.

We continue to innovate with materials such as cast iron and have introduced new materials such as our composite material, Lithocast and our re-inforced acrylic range - Flote.

Still family owned, we continue the essentials in exceptional design that John Kohler set; an uncompromising commitment to craft and a willingness to be bold.