As part of a new series to inspire and unite architects and designers across the world, last week we hosted the KOHLER Design Forum in London, exploring the integration of design and technology into our daily lives.

Over the past three years, Kohler have held forums in key design hubs throughout Asia and Europe, bringing together influential and award-winning designers and architects from the world over. The London edition of the KOHLER Design Forum took place in the beautifully restored Jerwood Hall, LSO St. Luke’s on 19th September. Focusing on the theme of “All Things Connected” the event put the spotlight on the growing and rapid integration of technology into our lives and how this is and will inform, shape and disrupt the design world.

The evening consisted of insightful presentations, discussions and panels by industry leaders on trending themes and topics and offered opportunities for architects and designers to inspire and be inspired.


Hosted in conjunction with the global affairs and lifestyle magazine Monocle, this year’s London forum saw a panel of speakers consisting of design professionals from various fields, including Ron Bakker, Founding Partner of PLP Architecture, Runa Sabroe, Programme Director at Danish Design Centre, Allison Dring, Co-Director and Founder at Elegant Embellishments and Mark Bickerstaffe – Director of New Product Development for Kohler Kitchen and Bath in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Moderated by Josh Fehnert, Executive Editor at Monocle, conversations were focused on how smart technology is shaping the world we live in and offered an interactive discussion on the integration of design and technology into our daily lives, touching on meaningful topics such as ‘Responsive Cities’ and discussing the use of smart technology in a people-centric way, and where the possibilities of artificial intelligence might take us.


The topic for the series is inspired by the recent global launch of the KOHLER Konnect smart home suite that includes the Verdera Voice lighted mirror with Amazon Alexa, and products enabled with KOHLER Konnect which include the DTV+ showering system, Numi Intelligent toilet, and Sensate kitchen tap. These products create the opportunity to bring voice control into our homes providing enhanced convenience and experiences.

The tour continues with Toronto in October before further events in Dubai and Bangkok.



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Ron Bakker
Founding partner, PLP Architecture 

Ron has contributed award-winning buildings and urban design projects to many major cities. He has a particular interest in architectural techniques that influence the qualities of gathering places in our cities and buildings – and is excited about the role of new technology in the built environment.

The Edge, Bakker’s recently completed project in Amsterdam, is considered the world’s most sustainable office building. He was also the architect of 1 Page Street, the refurbishment of a 1960s building in Westminster; 65 Davies Street, a new high-end office development in Mayfair that integrates the infrastructure of a new Crossrail station; and an extension of the World Trade Center in Amsterdam.


Runa Sabroe
Programme director, Danish Design Centre

Runa heads projects on the DDC’s strategic platform Design Cities. She worked for the cross-governmental innovation unit MindLab for seven years and has solid experience with the use of design as a framework for innovation and service development. Thanks to her previous role as a communication adviser for the internationally positioned architectural firm Schmidt Hammer Lassen, she has in-depth experience with strategic organisation development within design and architecture.

Sabroe is also a popular speaker and teacher in Denmark and abroad. She has taught in a wide range of contexts, including collaborations with UNDP, Saïd Business School, the University of Oxford and the Canadian-based design school Institute without Boundaries.


Allison Dring
Co-Director & Founder, Elegant Embellishments

Allison has an interdisciplinary background ranging from large-scaled architectural projects to design research and manufacturing. She has taught and given critiques at the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Royal College of Art, Cardiff University, London Metropolitan University and Istituto Marangoni.

Dring has been featured in Elle magazine as a speaker on smart cities and is an advisory board member for The Lifeboat Foundation. She received her Master’s in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2000 and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arizona.

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Mark Bickerstaffe
New product development director, Kohler Kitchen & Bath

Mark joined Kohler in 2004 to lead design and product development across Europe, Middle East, Africa, India and Asia Pacific. He now heads up a highly talented team of creative people working from studios in Paris, London, Cheltenham and Shanghai, responsible for all kitchen and bath product-experience design outside of North America.

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Forum moderator:

Josh Fehnert
Executive editor, Monocle 

Josh oversees Monocle’s international coverage of the hospitality industry across print, film, radio and online. ​He is also a regular presenter of Section D, a weekly 30-minute programme on Monocle 24 radio devoted to showcasing the best in design, architecture, and fashion.