KOHLER WasteLAB x Nada Debs

Apr 26, 2024 10:30 AM ET
Black and white portrait of Nada Debs

KOHLER, Wis., April 26, 2024 /3BL/ - Kohler Co. unveils Transcendence by KOHLER WasteLAB x Nada Debs, a series of bespoke tiles that marry a sustainable medium with an artist’s life-long passion and transformative, multi-disciplinary art. An artistic expression that references the simple beauty of sweeping archways and the timelessness of repetition, the collection is made from nearly 100 percent recycled waste materials. This is the third tile collection by KOHLER WasteLAB and utilizes the company’s pottery scrap to create ecologically thoughtful products for the home. Transcendence by KOHLER WasteLAB x Nada Debs can be purchased by consumers and trade in the U.S. and Canada through ANN SACKS Showrooms.

The Transcendence collection has an understated elegance and soothing color palette based in nature. Inspired by Nada Debs’ work in hammam design and taking form through KOHLER WasteLAB’s pioneering abilities to turn manufacturing waste streams into a useable base, sets this latest WasteLAB series apart from most commercial offerings.

Mimicking the arch aesthetic of a traditional hammam, the designs offer a visual parallel between the rebirth of waste material and the spiritual and emotional rejuvenation of a hammam experience. “Hammams are divided into rooms to separate each of the rituals,” said Debs. “The individual domes of each room produce a large-scale layering that is minimal in scope but visually impactful and something I wanted to also capture in my tile designs. Arches reflect the architecture of the past, it is one of our most ancient design elements, and by its very shape, creates a calming, almost spiritual effect within a room. Also, the shapes, the simple geometry and playful modularity each adds such dimension and an adaptability for personalized expression. But what was most important to me when embarking on this new, creative venture, was the pure, sustainable message that these tiles sent. Handcrafted from recycled materials, each a work of art, and being able to be a part of the passionate Kohler team…these are a few of the touchstones that gave the collection the type of meaning that made me want to take this forward.”

Transcendence is comprised of two field tiles, a 3”x12” size in four patterns, and a 6”x6” size in three patterns. The tiles are handmade in Kohler, Wis. by the KOHLER WasteLAB talented group of designers, ceramicists, and engineers who rely on factory waste as their primary medium and a multi-step process. Once the clay is pressed, WasteLAB artisans remove any excess clay around the edges before glazing and firing the tiles. The 6”x6” Transcendence field tile is available in Single Arch, Double Arch, and Double Vertical patterns, and are defined by recessed single and double arches, or triple line surface details. The 3”x12” tile has a slightly stepped, steepled pattern, featuring a single arch pattern in left and right facing designs, and a double arch pattern in left and right facing designs. The stepped face also produces the graduated, light-to-deeper colorations and illusionary presence.

“We use a proprietary technique to produce a very thin glaze that is achieved when it meets its melting point in the kiln,” explained Monty Stauffer, Lead Industrial Designer, Product & Process, KOHLER WasteLAB. “This causes the glaze to run to the lowest point in the tile. By creating a tile with ‘steps’ that are lower in the middle, the glaze pools in the low areas, creating a darker glaze color. The edges of the ‘steps’ are where the glaze breaks causing more of the clay body to show through. These all combine to create a lot of depth in the tile with minimal actual surface depth change.”

Debs selected two sophisticated shades for the collection – Turquoise and Lake. The interactive glaze created for the collection has a unique composition designed to pool and break over the textured surface during firing. A resulting delicate crackle occurs after the firing that adds to the artful visual effect.

“My palette takes its cues from the natural world,” said Debs. “Blues are calming colors, reminding you of the sky, the sea, and in some cultures, is also considered good luck. Lake is quiet and soothing; Turquoise is happy, more social, and very vibrant. If the colors were personalities, I see Lake as introspective, while Turquoise is the extrovert. There is also the graduated shading that has an understated, but profound effect visually, enhanced by the unexpected gentle surface crackling that adds to the organic presence Transcendence imparts.”

The designs are ideal for any vertical dry interior installations. To retain the tile’s pure color, it is not recommended for exposed wet areas as it will affect the crackled surface glaze. The tiles can also be laid in any artful, imaginative combination for personalized, one-of-a-kind interiors.

“I see Transcendence working in so many ways,” concluded Debs. “Vertical or horizontal installations and mixing and matching the various patterns would give you an almost limitless choice of custom layups whether selecting the squared 6”x6” tile or the larger scaled 3”x12” design. Contrasting grout would also heighten the effect and evoke a contemporary edge. From bathroom or spa to feature walls, fireplace surrounds, and backsplashes, this is a statement-making tile – not only by its surreal beauty but through the thoughtful sustainable story it tells – one I am so pleased to be a part of and share now.”

About Kohler WasteLAB
At the Kohler WasteLAB, we look for ways to see the world differently. Specifically, we look to nature as a model for sustainable processes. Through nature’s cycles of growth and decay, waste simply doesn’t exist. The WasteLAB applies such an approach in its manufacturing process, using landfill-bound pottery, wastewater sludge and other forms of waste to design and produce stunning products. The KOHLER WasteLAB is just one of the several success stories to come out of Kohler’s innovative start-up Innovation for Good (ifG). For more information, visit https://wastelab.kohler.com/.

About Kohler Co.

For 150 years, Kohler Co. has been a global leader in design and innovation, dedicated to providing gracious living through kitchen and bath products; luxury cabinetry, tile and lighting; distributed energy solutions – home energy, industrial power systems, and powertrain technologies – and luxury hospitality experiences and major championship golf. Privately held Kohler Co. was founded in 1873 and is headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin. The company also develops solutions to address pressing issues, such as clean water and sanitation, for underserved communities around the world to enhance the quality of life for current and future generations.

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Vicki Hafenstein
Kohler Co. Public Relations
Email: vicki.hafenstein@kohler.com