Monday, April 29, 2013

BlogTourNOLA - TOTO "People Planet Water"

What is it about the bidet that leaves most North Americans giggling like school children. One of my first posts for Useful Spaces dealt with this exact subject and 3 years later I'm no closer to having an answer.  Honestly, I'd like to go all "Southern mama" on y'all and give you a whack upside the head. (I met "Mama" on a plantation tour just outside of New Orleans.  She'd do it too.)

The fact is complete toilet hygiene just isn't possible using paper alone. There are crevices, folds, and hair on the human body that will never be 100% clean without some soap and water. Trust me, I'm a middle aged man.  I know all about hair and crevices, and after an extended visit to France where a number of our hotels had bidets I was converted.

TOTO figured this out years ago and brought us the Washlet in 1980.  I can remember the first time I saw one; it was in the Japanese restaurant next door to my showroom.  I'd heard of TOTO, but had never actually seem the toilet seat with the electronic controls. Yes, I managed to soak myself after pushing the wrong button, but I've never forgotten that "eureka" moment when I saw it. Putting the function of a bidet into a standard toilet seat served the function of a bidet without adding another fixture into your bathroom is clever thinking.

Today Toto offers several models of the Washlet, and has augmented it with a new line of toilets that take the hygiene issue to new heights that fortunately won't leave some of you giggling. Heard of the smartphone?  How about a smart-toilet?  The Neorest toilet features the usual array of automatic features one would expect to find in a luxury toilet, but returns to TOTO's focus of "people first innovation" and adds a series of hygienic technology that's straight out of Star Trek ... although I'm still not convinced why I need a remote control for my toilet.  I lose my TV remote often enough and am afraid where I might lose my toilet remote.
  • Automatic Open and Close Lid
  • Three Cleansing Modes
  • Hands-Free Automatic Flush
  • Cyclone siphon jet flushing system (1.6GPF/6.0LPF)
  • Automated 1.2GPF/4.5LPF when seat and lid are in up position
  • Adjustable, Warm Air Dryer
  • Built-in Air Purifying System
  • Oscillating and Pulsating Comfort Washing
  • Front and Rear Cleanse
  • Self-Cleaning Nozzle
  • Slim and Sleek Remote Control
  • Adjustable Heated Seat Temperature
  • Adjustable Spray with Precision Positioning
  • Energy-Saver Timer
  • Manual Override Function
  • Adjustable Water Temperature
  • Warm Air Dryer
  • Rimless Design Ensures a Clean Bowl Rinse After Each Use
  • SanaGloss® Glaze Keeps the Neorest Cleaner, Longer

Have you ever heard of electrolyzed water?  TOTO has, and adds their eWater+  after every flush to clean and disinfect, and once every eight hours during non-use. There's also SanaGloss coating that seals china with an ionized barrier, creating a super-smooth surface that prevents particles from adhering, while its catalyzed ion barrier actually repels debris, mold, and bacteria.

Toto is also taking water conservation seriously. Think 1.28 gallons per flush is impressive?  TOTO has upped their game and is offering toilets with 1.0 gpm.  The Double Cyclone flush is not only efficient, but much quieter than other flushing technologies.

I was fortunate enough to have been able to sit down with Katsuhito Nojima, Executive Vice President of TOTO USA, over a breakfast of biscuits and gravy at  Calcasieu (private dining above Cochon). Not very Japanse, but it strangely highlighted Toto's commitment to focussing on what the consumer wants rather than what TOTO thinks the consumer needs ... the "People" part of "People Planet Water".

"Katz" offered this infographic as an explanation (TOTO is big on infographics.  Check out their Pinterest page for more proof)  It's Toto's belief that simply building a better product isn't enough. It's about building the right product for the market they're in.  I asked him about the Washlet and the reluctance of the North American market to adopt it.  He remains convinced that while the Washlet may not be for everyone it's a great product, outselling all others in its category.  When we all stop giggling, TOTO will exactly what we want.

My participation in BlogTour New Orleans has been made possible by the generous support of the sponsors, and while I will be sharing their stories with you, the views expressed are all my own.

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