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Spotlight: Up Close & Personal with Kevin Hackner from Acryluso

Sometimes the best business ideas are born from a need to fill a gap in the market. The same is true for Acryluso by Laser Edge Designs . Today we hear from owner and General Manager Kevin Hackner about how this brand came to be and what you can expect from the brand in the seasons to come…

Tell us about your background and how you started Laser Edge Designs?

I studied a BCOM information systems at Bond University. During the period of my studies, I realized that my interest and passion for product creation would be wasted if I continued down the path of working in an IT-related industry. However, I decided to complete my BCOM nonetheless.

While studying I started a cosmetics import and distribution company with my then-girlfriend. This business grew into one of the biggest independent professional make-up distributors in the country and we eventually created our own brand of Make-Up called ‘Alila Cosmetics’ which was distributed to over 40 training institutions around the country.

One of the requirements for our cosmetics business was having quality point of sale acrylic display units to showcase our products. Initially, these were outsourced. Our suppliers let us down which resulted in delays in supplying our products to customers.

Realising that there was a gap in the market for an acrylic specialist inspired me to rent a small factory which gave birth to Laser Edge Designs.

Tell us about the history of the company and your ultimate focus?

The company started in 2006 with the primary objective of producing high-quality point-of sales displays and signage. Our first client was our sister company, Kaleidoscope Cosmetics (later known as Alila). We grew rapidly and eventually supplied point of sales products for brands like MTN, Redken, Smirnoff and Tekkie Town.

After several years of trading, we looked to innovate and expand our business. Consumer trends pointed us to developing a business that serves high quality and handcrafted designs.

Over a period of time, we developed a range of acrylic furniture and homeware, went to the market and after seeing success, we decided to shift our complete focus from retail to homeware and furniture. And this is when the ‘Acryluso’ name was born. ‘Lusso’ meaning Luxury in Italian.

What personally inspires you in your working life?

I love looking at beautiful things. There is nothing better than creating bespoke pieces that start off as a sketch or an inspiration and appreciating the inspired idea brought to life. When creating new products, it takes several attempts before getting the required result but it is this creative process that keeps me excited and inspired and motivated.

What are some considerations when designing new products?

Functionality is key for me. Our products are meant to be used. It doesn’t help to have a gorgeous looking chair but it requires a person to go for physiotherapy after having sat on it. Proportion, ergonomics, trend, and beauty are what I try to keep at the back of my head whenever we are creating new products within the Acryluso offering.

What do you need to consider when working with Acrylics?

Of all the materials to work with, I believe Acrylic must be one of the most unforgiving. As an example, with wooden furniture the bonds are not visible and if there are some surface imperfections, these can fairly easily be sanded out. With Acrylic products, particularly clear acrylic products, the joints are all visible so to have a bubble-free and ‘clean’ bond is what ‘seperates the men from the boys’ in this industry.

Using the correct tools, having highly trained personnel and thinking about what needs to be done and in what order is crucial when manufacturing acrylic furniture and homeware.

Planning a new product can sometimes be a nightmare. Can you tell us some of the common struggles?

Seeing a sketch or image of inspiration and then trying to create our own interpretation is not a simple task. It is crucial to be mindful that we need to create a unique product which also must be usable on a day-to-day basis. It is very easy to get lost in creating an item that is beautiful on the eye but not functional because it is either too heavy to ever be moved or is uncomfortable.

What is your current favourite product?

Our fairly newly created Queen Mink chair makes me very proud every time I look at it. So right now, ‘She’ is the Acryluso piece that has my creative heart.

Any exciting projects or collaborations you are involved in?

We are busy creating our summer 21 collection which is due to launch this November. There are some truly spectacular new products being created for this new collection. And we’re launching a media campaign called, ‘Designer Diaries’ which will aim to inspire your inner designer within South Africans.

Which designer inspires you?

I really like the pieces created by American designer and brand owner ‘Jonathan Adler’.

The perfect place in your home to indulge?

Our patio. Being able to appreciate the small things in life we take for granted, like looking at a beautiful garden and hearing the birds is a way for me to switch off all the ‘noise’ from the world almost every day.

I know very few of us are travelling right now but if you could where would you go?

There are so many places but I would really like to travel with my fiancé to Italy. The idea of renting a car and driving through the small towns of Italy, seeing the culture in its purest form, eating homemade pasta from a mom-and-pop type restaurant, is something I cant wait to do in the near future.

What are your current favourite restaurants/shops?

For clothing, I would have to say ‘Kingsley Heath’. A long time favourite restaurant for me is ‘Restaurante Parreirinha’.

What’s your personal motto?

‘Work hard, play hard’. You only live once so make the most of it.

A place you visited to unwind in Africa?

Botswana

Any awards the company has won?

We won an award for best stand in our category at the New York Now exhibition in 2017.

For more visit Acryluso.


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