The Future of Surfaces — Axolotl
Axolotl’s story of persistence and innovation for over 20 years sees the brand at the forefront of creativity and technology in architectural surfaces.
Brothers Kim Torma (Creative Director) and Kris Torma (Managing Director) co-founded Axolotl in 1995 and, 25 years later, a determined persistence to constantly interrogate and explore boundaries sees them leading this specialised area. Kris says, “the launch of Axolotl itself ended up being a pivotal moment in our business lives. It began almost as an experiment and we thought it would just be part time alongside our existing careers, however, the reaction received for our metals was quite phenomenal and, ultimately, we had to make the choice between pursuing separate careers or pursuing Axolotl.” Underpinned by an ethos grounded in creativity and integrity, the business was born.
Having pioneered the bonding of semi-precious metals to a substrate, Kris says, “each product since inception has centred around using common materials and manufacturing processes in ways that really push the limits and haven’t been seen before.” He adds, “our business is based on experimentation and not every venture eventuates – but the successes are truly bespoke.” Backed by a growing and dedicated team of interior, industrial and specialist architectural designers, Axolotl is a place of experimentation and design innovation. As Kris explains, “if we see a brief that isn’t yet met, we’ll invent a solution.”
Underpinned by an ethos grounded in creativity and integrity, Axolotl was born.
Axolotl has garnered an impressive portfolio of works, diverse in scale, complexity and niche, and the one underlying element is a sense of opportunity achieved in each. Kris says, “our main interest is in evolving the condition and preconceptions of common materials, re-engineering them to have new features such as being lighter in weight, or even combining two diverse materials together.” He adds, “learning and exploring new materials and processes is what interests us.” Having started working with metal only at the studio’s inception, Axolotl has expanded its range to include glass, concrete, timber, terracotta, terrazzo, solid surfaces, natural stone and select paint finishes. “We have fun experimenting and developing our products – each piece and project is unique, and the sum of this is presented in our vast product range today,” Kris says.
Through its expanse and reach, Axolotl compasses all areas of design, collaborating with global design leaders on projects within art, architecture, furniture, building products and surfaces. Their commitment to continued development, research and improvement, sees an aligned continual growth occur concurrently. “Glass was a key turning point for the business and seemed a natural progression of the Axolotl offer,” Kris says. “Working with two materials gave us the opportunity to target the same clientele with a broader scope of materials and infinitely more design possibilities.”
Axolotl has garnered an impressive portfolio of works, diverse in scale, complexity and niche, and the one underlying element is a sense of opportunity achieved in each.
Constantly future focused, Axolotl works alongside artists for custom commissions, artworks and competitions. Commitment to the environment and sustainability is also a cornerstone to the business. Kris says, “the environmental design, and the beautiful spaces built, reflect both our personal and professional interests and values. The product is unique and isn’t mass produced.”
With its keen community and social consciousness, each of the materials that Axolotl engages with are held to these same exacting standards. From the metals that are applied as a veneer to require significantly less mass material and less power to produce (which has an inherent reduction in financial cost, energy and associated pollution) to the concrete and stone where Axolotl use 2% of raw material (compared to traditional methods that would require solid materials), the emphasis on innovation and efficiency is clear. The use of recycled materials, sustainable renewable timber that is FSC certified, paint with low or minimal VOCs and the utilisation of solar energy for production all reinforce the key studio values and a commitment to the sustainable future of design.
“Glass was a key turning point for the business and seemed a natural progression of the Axolotl offer.”
Even more so now than ever, the need for businesses to have an environmental, social and economic consciousness in design is paramount, and these are all founding totems of the Axolotl brand. Through constant self-interrogation, experimentation and study of exploration, the team push the potential of each project to enviable limits. Axolotl’s team of passionate designers, thinkers, creator and makers are paving the way for a future of design. Extending beyond the traditional limits of the design and construction process, together with designers and architects, Axolotl is realising the potential of the true meaning of specialised customisation.