One of the standout moments of this year’s Acrylic Design Awards in Turkey was being able to reveal the winning entries as real, fully-fabricated objects. After the months of thought, ingenuity and effort put into these designs, it was fantastic to see the students’ elation at having their ideas standing in front of them.

The fabrication of two of these designs – first-placed ‘Akrilikopolis’ and third-placed ‘Rainbow’ – relied on the expertise of London-based Inplas Fabrications. We spoke to Trevor Smith, Managing Director of Inplas, about his involvement with the project.

Pictured: Team ‘Akrilikopolis’ with their winning concept, brought to life by Inplas Fabrications.

What were your first impressions of the Acrylic Design Awards?

TS: The moment I became aware of the Acrylic Design Awards in Turkey, I became very interested in the whole project. The images of the shortlisted entries excited me as I could see how the students had really thought about their designs

What did you think about ‘Akrilikopolis’ and the ‘Rainbow’ glasses – the first and third-placed designs which you brought to life for the awards event?

TS: ‘Akrilikopolis’ immediately captured my attention, as did the ‘Rainbow’ glasses. Both designs stood out as perfect choices to take forward and transform into actual, manufactured pieces.

How did acrylic lend itself to designs like these?

TS: Acrylic was the perfect material choice for both designs. It has the versatility of being able to be thermoformed, CNC-machined, laser-cut, engraved, bonded and polished. The properties of acrylic are numerous, and this allowed us to use our years of experience and latest manufacturing equipment to really do justice to the students’ concepts.

Talk us through the fabrication process for ‘Akrilikopolis’.

TS: After looking at the design, I enlisted Kit from model-makers Trick of the Eye Ltd to produce the stone components. Kit started work on the base whilst Inplas began to fabricate the acrylic sections.

We CNC-machined the 10mm acrylic and thermoformed it to achieve the arch shape, all edges were delicately bonded and the edges perfectly polished. These acrylic sections fitted seamlessly with the stone sections, which had been hand-sculpted from high-density foam, with all pieces delicately glued together in the final arrangement with an ultra-strong epoxy resin.

Pictured: wonderful attention to detail in both the acrylic fabrication and the ‘stone’ modelling.

And for the ‘Rainbow’ glasses?

TS: From initially looking at the design concept for these, I knew our laser-cutting and engraving experience would be best to create the profiles. There were three separate pieces for this.

The front frames were laser-engraved around the rims to give a subtle outline effect. We then thermoformed the arms either side of the frames to create a fixing point for the connecting pieces. The final part was to laser cut the ear profile section of the arms.

I wanted each pair to be completely interchangeable using various acrylic colours, giving people the chance to experiment and play with colour to create their own versions on the day of reveal.

How did it feel to see the finished items in Turkey next to their designers?

TS: I could not have been happier to see that the designs arrived in Turkey to meet the students who had created the original ideas. I knew that they would both be very popular.

The glasses looked fantastic in the varying tinted acrylic colours, but were also very functional and it was great to see that the attendees actually tried them on and had fun with them.

Pictured: guests had great fun trying on the ‘Rainbow’ glasses and experimenting with the interchangeable arm colours.

We also heard from the students behind the two designs you fabricated. Here’s what they thought of your craftsmanship…

Team ‘Akrilikopolis’:

“Encountering the model at the awards ceremony increased our excitement even further. It gave us the opportunity to talk with many of the participants which made us very happy. We think that the model is just as effective as the design.”

Team ‘Rainbow’:

“Seeing the real version of our idea encouraged us for future designs. We were motivated by everyone’s interaction with our product and honoured by its production and users’ attraction to it.”

Finally, Trevor, what advice would you give to somebody who is considering working with acrylic?

TS: My advice is to learn about the qualities of this exciting material first. Research the many ways it cans be used and the huge diversity of the applications it can create. Talk to people who work with acrylic about your ideas and designs. They can give you advice about the best ways of turning your ideas into reality.