Fancy toilets are having their moment. To wit: the Guggenheim’s exhibit “America” by Maurizio Cattelan, a functioning 18-karat gold toilet installed in a fifth floor restroom, which has people waiting in line to take selfies on it.
Then there’s the pricey and multifunctional Japanese brand with the silly-sounding name: Toto. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Howard Stern and Kid Rock have taken to social media to rave about their Totos — Jenner garnered a whopping 875,000 Instagram likes by featuring her roughly $9,000 throne.
So why has such a utilitarian fixture turned into a status symbol? Luxury Listings NYC attended the opening of Toto’s 4,000-square-foot showroom in the Flatiron District at 20 West 22nd Street to investigate.
The new store is located in an area that continues to attract high-design retailers. One of the latest, B&B Italia, opened a 9,000-square-foot flagship at 135 Madison Avenue in September.
Think of Toto as the Tesla of toilets.
At the Toto showroom, one can marvel at the lineup of toilets. At the high end, the grand master of all commodes, the Neorest 750H, runs about $10,000. More basic versions of the Neorest go for $5,700.
Also on display are the myriad features behind the brand’s popularity. For starters, a Toto is more sanitary than other toilets. It uses antibacterial electrolyzed water, and it is better for the environment. Its unique self-washing system conserves water and electricity. Think of it as the Tesla of toilets.
Toilets were also part of a trend presentation that Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, the largest wholesale distributor of plumbing supplies in the U.S., held recently in the Flatiron District. Bidets and washlets (which integrate toilet and washing systems) have been slowly growing in popularity in recent years. “Customers enjoy using a bidet abroad and want to bring that experience to their own home,” said Sheldon Malc, New York metro-area showroom manager for Ferguson, which carries Toto competitors like Kohler and DXV.
Interior designer Jennifer J. Morris of JMorris Design recommends Toto to clients, most recently to an international musician who was spoiled by them abroad. Morris said it should be considered an investment piece. “Toto offers a CeFIONtect glaze, which makes the bowl surface resistant to buildup and require less cleanup. And if you select an inclusive height design, you will be able to keep this toilet as you age.”
Morris said that a top-of-the-line Toto, including a heated and self-lifting seat, self-cleaning and flushing, and remote-control bidet features with a range of personal settings, will add value to a home.
For those who want to experience a Toto: A nifty NYC map created by the company highlights the locations that have them, including Lincoln Center, the Mandarin Oriental, the Ritz Carlton Battery Park and the Four Seasons as well as Japanese eateries Morimoto, Red Farm and Sushi of Gari.
Stories of fanaticism inspired by the brand abound. We heard from Citi Habitats real estate agent Royce Berler about a Toto disciple who sold her apartment on East 40th Street but couldn’t bear to part with her toilet, so she brought it with her to her new apartment.
The seller said when she first met her husband, she was impressed that he had a Toto in his home. She said she knew immediately it was a match made in heaven — or at least in the bathroom.