Fledgling furniture maker’s grand designs for expansion

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 10 Oct 2018

AN emerging furniture maker has told how she has grand designs on Grimsby’s Kasbah as she looks to expand her fledgling business.

Nina Still, who learnt her craft at the prestigious Chippingdale International School of Furniture in Edinburgh, launched Maria V Design after struggling to find a job to further her passion. 

Now, keen to add space to show her bespoke pieces having operated from a town centre workshop for the past 18 months, she is hoping to embrace the opportunities the Grimsby Town Deal may bring.

The 26-year-old, who studied at St Mary’s Catholic High School, said: “I’ve always thought there was potential on the docks and I’m now looking for somewhere big enough to have a workshop, and also have a showroom space too. I really believe you need to properly see furniture and appreciate the wood before buying it.” 

Aiming at the mid to high-end market, bespoke pieces have included bunk beds, benches and tables. “If it is in the house and made out of wood, I will give it a go,” she said, with short run limited edition collections including lamps and clocks also proving popular. 

Read more: Grimsby's historic Kasbah at centre of £3.7m investment to transform areas of docks and town for new bars and restaurants

The daughter of an engineer and secretary, her grandmother’s father was a coachmaker, and her grandfather a carpenter, though tools had long been hung up before she was interested. 

Her business takes the names of her grandmothers, Maria and Violet, with Maria Violetta also given as her middle names. 

Nina in her workshop.

Acknowledging the family heritage, she said: “I always liked designing and drawing – I probably spent more time in school drawing than paying attention! I decided to do product design at university, so I went to Lincoln and in the first day or two was told that we’d become the type of designers who would create something and get it made in China. That didn’t sit well with me, we’d had job losses in the town, and I like to get my hands dirty.”

Realising from all the work she did that furniture and wood work was her preference, she graduated feeling “you can’t design properly without knowing how something is built”.

So she followed up her degree by attending the fine woodworking school. 

“It was extremely intense, from 8am to 8pm or 9pm, getting so many things done as possible, learning as you go.” Traditional cabinet making, carving, gilding and veneering was all covered. 

Returning in 2016, she spent a year looking for a job in the industry, being told she was either over-qualified because of her degree, or under-qualified because she didn’t have an apprenticeship.

“Quite a few times I was told the employer didn’t think I was suitable because I was female,” she said.

Finally, a business start-up package was highlighted and Maria V Design was launched.  

“I really enjoy it, and I am pretty happy with what has happened so far,” she said. “In terms of inspiration, I realise the more I design, the more I go towards mid-century modern Danish and Scandinavian furniture, even if I don’t intend to. I like to look at the wood and then figure out what it is going to be good for.” 

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