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U.K. design firm Koto was founded by Johnathon and Zoe Little and Theo Dales in 2017 to provide nature-inspired spaces that enhance an overall sense of well-being. Their prefab residences, hospitality-focused turnkey cabins, and now, a sauna designed in collaboration with Out of the Valley (which has one of its own), aim to better connect people to their natural environments with sleek, minimalist interiors that keep an emphasis on the outdoors. Here, Johnathon shares one of the company’s favorite builds, and fills us in on the new Jōki Elements sauna.
Tell us about the new sauna.
The Jōki Sauna (jōki meaning "steam" in Japanese) is an outdoor, modular sauna cabin. It’s part of our Elements series, which also includes a hot tub, that aims to redefine relaxation and wellness in natural settings. Combining the architectural expertise of Koto in creating sustainable design-led structures with Out of the Valley’s mastery in crafting stunning timber cabins, the result is a fusion of design and function that we hope will enhance the wellness industry.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve realized to date?
Among the array of exciting Koto projects we have delivered to the private and hospitality sectors, one that has truly captivated our hearts is the KotoHouse in North Uist. This venture, realized for a private client seeking a family home, holds a special place in our journey. Set against the backdrop of the rugged North Uist landscape, this dwelling stands as a testament to our design-led philosophy.
The unique charm of this project lies in its seamless integration with the Hebridean landscape. The home has been thoughtfully positioned to command breathtaking vistas that change with the moods of nature. The client’s vision aligned perfectly with our principles of connecting people with their surroundings while providing a haven of comfort.
While all our projects hold a special place in our creative journey—from hospitality cabin projects to exclusive homes—ventures like Koto House in North Uist showcase the transformative power of design and its ability to create spaces that not only meet practical needs but also inspire its inhabitants.
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What does your base model cost and what does that pricing include?
Our pricing is variable based on location and order size.
What qualities make your prefabs stand apart from the rest?
Koto stands out by combining extraordinary design with exceptional craftsmanship, sustainable principles, practicality, and adaptability. We’re not just constructing structures—we’re crafting environments that enrich lives, connect clients with nature, and leave an indelible mark on those who reside within them.
Where do you ship/where is the prefab currently available?
Currently, Koto operates across the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., with a strong foothold in these regions. Our presence in the U.S. is undergoing dynamic growth, driven by a strategic partnership with a dedicated market development counterpart. In the near future, we plan to introduce our new flat-pack panelized projects to in the U.S. and Canada. This expansion is in response to the rising demand for our innovative designs, as we engage in various residential and hospitality projects within the country.
How long can a client expect the process to take after they put down a deposit?
Lead times vary based on the specific product, but for a typical cabin, the construction period usually falls within the range of 12 to 16 weeks, followed by the delivery process.
What aspects of an install do you manage?
In the U.K., we take care of several key aspects during the installation process. Our services encompass the design and planning phase for both single-home and multi-cabin projects as part of our comprehensive planning service offering. Services such as site preparation, excavation, and connections to electrical and water systems are typically managed as separate elements by our client’s contractors.
Outside of the U.K., we typically partner with local architects and consultants to ensure local codes and regulations are met.
What aspects of the design can a client customize?
With bespoke projects, almost everything is open to customization. Our off-the-shelf products are predesigned so there is less flexibility with the exteriors, however, clients still have the opportunity to select their preferred fixtures and finishes.
Through close collaboration with the Koto Living team during the design phase, clients enjoy the flexibility to personalize a multitude of interior design elements according to their preferences and requirements. This spans from finishes and fixtures to appliances and more, culminating in a unique living environment that perfectly reflects each client’s distinct individuality.
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