This $25,000 Toilet Comes with Its Own Creative Manifesto..and Its Own Nightlight

a man standing on a large orange object
This Smart Toilet Has Its Own ManifestoCourtesy Kohler
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With a practice that spans art and industrial design, the award-winning British designer, creative director, and artist Samuel Ross and his studio, SR_A (Samuel Ross & Associates), are never lacking for new challenges. At this year’s Milan Design Week, Ross was tasked with the introduction of Formation 01 and Formation 02, new faucet and toilet designs that mark the studio’s second collaboration with Kohler. Both pieces were shown in a site-specific installation, inspired by industrial pipes, set within the grand pillars of the Palazzo del Senato.

a red pipe with a hole in it
The Formation 02 toilet, designed by SR_A.Kohler Co.

Ross, whose background is in illustration and product design, got his start in fashion under the late Virgil Abloh. The toilet, like much of his work, began with hand drawings and prose; he even details the philosophical underpinnings of the project in a manifesto that’s available online. “It’s just the way that I work,” Ross told ELLE DECOR. “Like, how do we kind of break this down into its component parts so that people can follow the journey with us?”

The asymmetrical toilet is made from composite resin in a sculptural form inspired by Brutalism and the effects of water-eroding stone. Available exclusively in Haptic Orange—a hue found commonly on traffic cones and construction-site safety fences—as well as Kohler’s 1967 debut of the color Tiger Lily in its bathroom line, it’s also roughly 20 percent larger than a standard toilet. “I’m kind of antagonizing—what is an object’s function, and how should it behave?” says Ross. “If we change the size of the object, does it become a sculpture?”

a red pipe with a hole in it
The shape of the toilet was inspired by the effect of water erosion on boulders and stone.Kohler Co.

Formation 02 also includes several integrated technologies like a heated seat, a nightlight, and a touch-screen remote. Despite its high-minded origins, or perhaps because of them, the project has generated a lot of engagement on social media. “People feel like they have the confidence to talk about the category,” says Ross, referring to bathroom products. “Even though it’s coming from this place of concept and these layers of meaning, people are like, ‘I know what that is.’ They’re claiming it. It’s something they can own.”

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