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Discover Etsy: Sharing Stories with Nihal Shah Designs

Nov 22, 2019

by Emma

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

This week we hear from Nihal Shah, London based seller who makes handmade furniture and homeware inspired by ethnic culture. We discovered Nihal as one of Medina Grillo’s (@grillodesigns) top Etsy picks during our campaign. So let’s hear a little more from Nihal…

I stumbled onto the idea of wanting to make furniture during my first year of university, after discovering the work of furniture designer Katy Sketon. I fell in love with her simple, elegant designs and it changed my perspective on the way I saw furniture. I began to see them as art forms rather than these big, bulky things that were needed for a functional home. I spent my remaining years at university learning the skills of woodworking through up-cycling old furniture I found in charity shops. I am pretty much self-taught – I learnt how to make wooden furniture by watching woodworking tutorials on YouTube and then putting that into practice in my own designs.

By analysing, dissecting and merging different cultural patterns together, I design a series of unified prints that echo commonality between us. I want people to feel a personal connection to these designs. I want people to feel that it is warm and familiar, and yet something that is fresh and contemporary. I want my patterns to be a celebration of cultural inclusiveness and embracing our differences.

Wooden petal serving tray, £69

I launched my Etsy shop back in 2017 and started off with my acrylic coaster sets. I then moved on to working solely with wood and expanded my collection that now includes furniture. I am most fascinated in the way geometry is used by different cultures; how form and shapes are used to manifest a range of ideologies, beliefs, values, and traditions. This is why, when it comes to my work, I take a personal approach to my designs, drawing inspiration from the range of cultures and identities that inhabit within London and myself.

When it comes to selling on Etsy I think it’s crucial to have great product shots. See it as an opportunity for you to show people how they can use your products within their homes through lifestyle shots.

Side tables from £195

When it comes to designing new products I always go back to the drawing board and question how can I continue to push my designs and its function. I think it’s crucial to stay up to date on design trends and see what is happening in the world of interiors. I always design my products to be timeless, yet contemporary and ensure that they outlast design trends.

One of my goals is to have a greater international clientele. I love seeing my coasters overseas, and it’s an amazing feeling having something I made in London now resting on someone’s coffee table in New York. As a small startup, moving into a new space and owning a laser cutter machine has allowed me to increase production. The new workspace allows me the capability to hire and build a creative team to help with product manufacturing and the every day running of the studio, offering them a fair salary and paying them the London living wage. This will allow me to build a sustainable business and grow my company.

Nihal at his workspace in London

I spent my remaining years at university learning the skills of woodworking through up-cycling old furniture I found in charity shops. I am pretty much self-taught I learnt how to make wooden furniture by watching woodworking tutorials on YouTube and then putting that into practice in my own designs.

I launched my Etsy shop back in 2017 and started off with my acrylic coaster sets. I then moved on to working solely with wood and expanded my collection that now includes furniture.

Shop a selection of placemats and coasters from £35

I think it’s because I am most fascinated in the way geometry is used by different cultures; how form and shapes are used too manifest a range of ideologies, beliefs, values, and traditions. This is why, when it comes to my work, I take a personal approach to my designs, drawing inspiration from the range of cultures and identities that inhabit within London and myself.

By analysing, dissecting and merging different cultural patterns together, I design a series of unified prints that echo commonality between us. I want people to feel a personal connection to these designs. I want people to feel that it is warm and familiar, and yet something that is fresh and contemporary. I want my patterns to be a celebration of cultural inclusiveness and embracing our difference.

When it comes to selling on Etsy I think it’s crucial to have great product shots. See it as an opportunity for you to show people how they can use your products within their homes through lifestyle shots.

When it comes to designing new products I always go back to the drawing board and question how can I continue to push my designs and its function. I think it’s crucial to stay up to date on design trends and see what is happening in the world of interiors. I always design my products to be timeless, yet contemporary and ensure that they outlast design trends.

One of my gaols is to have a greater international cliental. I love seeing my coasters overseas, and it’s an amazing feeling having something I made in London now resting on someones coffee table in New York.

As a small startup, moving into a new space and owning a laser cutter machine has allowed me to increase production. The new workspace allows me the capability to hire and build a creative team to help with product manufacturing and the every day running of the studio, offering them a fair salary and paying them the London living wage. This will allow me to build a sustainable business and grow my company”

Visit Nihal’s shop for more work and follow Nihal on Instagram

Shop a selection of placemats and coasters from £35