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20 years and still innovating

 

In July 1995 my brother Kim and I launched Axolotl from a one-car garage space in Redfern. This month marks our 20th anniversary and to celebrate we wanted to share our story, and to thank all of those who have been involved.

From humble beginnings, booking presentations with architects and designers to showcase our four metal samples (available in a single texture!), we have long outgrown our garage. Our transition, from simple pioneers of a process that involved cold applying metal to other elements, to our current range of products and processes that extend way beyond metal as a material, have garnered recognition and reward on an international scale.

Ten years after we first set up shop, glass was added to our product range and working with two materials now opened up even greater design possibilities. We pioneered LINK, which enabled metal to be inlaid into glass and won us a coveted product innovation award.

We then survived the double hit of the GFC in 2009 and the realisation that we had been embezzled by a manager in the business, reducing our staff of 32 to 13. With lean times and support from our suppliers and staff we were able to survive the ensuing years.

As is often the case, out of austerity came creation and those lean times saw Axolotl launch concrete, sheet metals, timber and terracotta surfaces into our range. Once again we offered design innovators the potential to challenge and author the type of new concepts that drive them.

In a somewhat lateral skew, Axolotl House, a sustainable mud brick home built by Kim was opened in the Hunter Valley as a B&B - a true shrine to quality craftsmanship.

And in 2013, we continued to flex our design muscle, creating furniture brand Anomaly in partnership with Evostyle. Boasting an all-Australian made furniture range designed by some of Australia’s top designers. 

Our latest offer, Axolotl Art Projects, promises a new resource for artists, developers and local governments to not only project manage art projects but to fabricate them. Since 2014 when this was first launched, we have already been awarded high profile and blue chip projects.

Looking back, we are grateful to realise that we have been featured in over 500 magazines, on radio, television and have been the recipients of more than 40 awards, including five international design awards. Our range of four metals has multiplied to hundreds and our products have been featured on buildings worldwide. We have worked with imaginative and visionary people including artists, architects and interior designers who we can’t thank enough for their ongoing support, and their continuing push for us to turn their 2D plans into 3D reality.

But it’s more than just products, it’s personal. Our staff are now an extended family. We have incredibly low turnover rates, which is great as they are so talented we never want them to leave.  

Looking to the future we have, as always, a number of new product developments underway. Nothing we can giveaway yet, but keep a look out at the four grey empty boxes on the Products page on our website, as they get filled with new innovative products over the coming months.

Of course, no business should be in business without a commitment to minimising their environmental footprint. By the end of August we will have installed a 50kW solar panel system on the roof of our factory, the equivalent of 1000sqm of solar panels, which is expected to at least meet, if not possibly surpass, our monthly power requirements.

It’s true that what started out as a small metal bonding business has grown way beyond our expectations back in 1995, but innovation has always been at the heart of the Axolotl brand and this passion to offer new possibilities has not abated with time. Axolotl has always, and will always transcend the idea of a simple product or manufacturing business.

So, as we move forward, redefining possibilities in the built environment for another 20 years, we would like to thank everyone who has ever been involved with the business, your presence and positivity has greatly shaped us. With your continued support and inspiration we can only promise to try to live up to our past, in the future.

 

Kris Torma