The TOTO Museum in Kyushu, Japan will showcase TOTO's century old bathroom design history, from its first Washlet model featuring the bidet to a toilet formerly used in the prime minister's office. Stephanie Peh writes.
After close to two years of construction, the TOTO Museum officially opened to public last month in Kitakyusyu city, Kyushu, Japan, where the company has been based since its founding in 1917. Spanning 11,044 metre-square in floor area, the museum charts TOTO’s origins, present and future, where its evolution is highlighted in exhibition spaces alongside 950 products, including TOTO’s first flush design and the Prime Minister’s former toilet.
Devoted to redefining bathware needs and the evolution of bathroom systems, TOTO has spent almost a century building a culture that is deeply seated in daily life. On showcase is the first ever Japanese modular bath originally developed for Hotel New Otani during the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The fabricated bath-toilet unit was created between the ’50s to early ’70s during a time when Japan was on a rapid economic growth.
As the Japanese began to seek comfort, the Washlet toilet seat was introduced in 1980 with a warm-water washing function. This iconic product has come to represent high-tech Japanese bathroom culture over time. The latest generation features a built-in deodoriser, heated seats, warm water massages and air drying – all of which are on display at the museum.
In alignment to the company’s sustainability values, the four-storey building designed by Azusa Sekkei implements over 100 environment-friendly measures. For example, the use of solar chimneys, high insulation architecture and glass maintains heat control, while its pavement was constructed using sanitary ware scrap produced as a result of the company’s manufacturing process. Energy saving methods include solar power generation and the use of naturally occurring light.
Alongside a showroom, training centre and hall, the museum also houses the existing TOTO History Archive which has hosted over 60,000 visitors to date, since its opening in 2007. It displays sanitary ware, as well as utensils dating from the Taisho to Showa eras; TOTO manufactured tableware when it first started, as few Japanese used ceramic toilets then.
Planned as part of a project to commemorate TOTO’s century old milestone in 2017, the building will also serve as a point of contact for visiting clients. Positioned as a landmark, it will disseminate new findings and information about TOTO’s latest innovations to people around the world.
The other social activities conducted by TOTO include Gallery MA, which specialises in architecture and design exhibitions; TOTO Publishing with books presenting viewpoints on design, as well as a technology showroom and technical centre in Shinjuku.