Home Anty-Climax Meet Big Kahuna Imagineering, Anthill 2011 Cool Company Award Finalist

Meet Big Kahuna Imagineering, Anthill 2011 Cool Company Award Finalist [X-Factor Category]


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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?

The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.

Big Kahuna Imagineering

Company: Big Kahuna Imagineering
Website: bki.com.au
State: NSW
Category: X-Factor

You would think that a company that models and fabricates giant shoes, soda bottles and coffee cups would be slam-dunk cool. End of discussion, right?

Ah, but Will Colhoun, the founder and principal wizard of Big Kahuna Imagineering, has no intention of stopping there. “We are a full-service provider often involved in projects from conception to installation/delivery and beyond,” he says. Clients get what they need, not what we feel comfortable supplying. We’re rarely in a comfort zone. Therefore, our clients are rewarded with powerfully original marketing tools.”

Calhoun, who worked as a model maker and prop designer on several big-budget films for Fox Studios, created Big Kahuna in 2000. Out of its shop in Rozelle, NSW, Calhoun and his small-but-flexible team create three-dimensional displays, signs, animatronic TV/video characters, puppets, device prototypes and art installations.

Some familiar client campaigns are the Sensodyne Chill Test and Bankwest’s sunshiney “Happy Banking” characters. Visit the company’s website to see images of some uber-cool projects: a Land-of-Oz-like robot costume for a Korean music video, an acrylic “ice army” for State Opera of South Australia’s presentation of the Ring Cycle, a Titanic-size propeller for Cascade brewery.

In a world where protection of intellectual property is a nearly manic pursuit, BKI doesn’t shield its ideas, aside from watermarks on drawings and designs. Why? Colhoun would rather focus on making the next thing more awesome than the last. And though he’s a businessman, he has the soul of an artist. “An artist looks to create bigger and better things and has to live comfortably with that being their collateral,” he says.

“We don’t emulate anyone,” Colhoun says. “We shoot from the hip. We never have to re-hash and re-do old projects. Our staff love coming to work and we’re a family sensitive business. We respect experience, skill and enthusiasm without prejudice.”

Big Kahuna employs social media to spread the word about their work, but the majority of their projects come from the reputation they’ve built over a decade. And when a major project has been put to bed, BKI enjoys treating staff and partners to a slap-up meal.

“I’m not only operating commercially. We have artistic passion that runs through the veins of our business,” Colhoun says. “Often I ask someone to do a thing we don’t need to do because it will make for a better product. Looking at us as individuals, would any one of us say we’re cool? No, we’re actually quite nerdy. But, we know cool sh#t and we have the courage to do what many of our competitors are afraid to.”

Behind the scenes at Big Kahuna Imagineering


A Peek into the Big Kahuna Imagineering Workshop.


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