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Together, Adi and Aida want to make woodworking an accessible skill again

14 Sep 2020 / 10:51 H.

THE knowledge of how to use basic tools to manipulate wood to create useful objects was once common. Woodworking skills was even taught in schools. Nowadays, woodworking has been relegated to YouTube videos, made by folks with money for the right tools, equipment, space, and time. But ADIAIDA wants to change all that.

Shafril Hadi (Adi) and Aida Ihsani (Aida) are the husband and wife team behind ADIAIDA, a company that started by building bespoke tables, chairs, shelves, and other wood furniture.

Now they do everything from designing and building, to teaching people how to create and sell their own products.

In an interview, the couple explained: “Adi was from an advertising background and then moved to work with an NGO before starting ADIAIDA. Aida, on the other hand, is a law graduate who decided to pursue a whole different career path – working with another NGO before ADIAIDA.”

Since most urbanites today live in apartments, the concept behind ADIAIDA is to create furniture that is able to fit into a limited space. This stems from the fact that most retail furniture is not really suited for high-rise dwelling spaces, and the materials do not last.

“We believe it’s better to invest in good quality furniture that lasts and can be passed down for a few generations,” said the couple.

Adi began his journey into woodworking during his time with an NGO that built homes for the Orang Asli community. He taught himself the skills by watching YouTube videos, and practised by making small projects for family and friends.

He then shared his skills with Aida when they met. From there, Aida started learning the trade herself, trying out the power tools and learning on the go.

Both Adi and Aida said: “We fell in love with woodworking from the get-go. Through practice, and by learning from our mistakes, both of us were on our way to becoming more adept with woodworking.

“We just love being able to design and build with our own two hands. We started with small commissioned works, with carte blanche (complete freedom) in terms of design as our favourite type – being able to create pieces where creativity is unleashed, pushing the envelope of what we can do.

“Slowly, through word of mouth, we moved onto bigger jobs for retail, brand collaterals and home furniture.”

In addition to making bespoke furniture, ADIAIDA also conducted Minimakemy Kids Woodworking and Mini & Me (Adult & Child) Woodworking workshops during school holidays. They were also approached by a school to set up their woodworking area, and facilitate after-school woodworking ECA (extra-curricular activities).

Last September, ADIAIDA launched what has been called Malaysia’s first Women’s Woodworking Workshop.

“We received overwhelming interest from women from all walks of life across Malaysia, including expatriates, for our workshop,” said Adi and Aida.

The couple explained that ADIAIDA’s Woodworking Workshop for Women was aimed at providing a safe space for women from ages 13 and above to come together and learn to use hand tools and power tools.

The Workshop began with an Intro Session, where the women learnt how to build a multipurpose rack or multifunctional stand, before advancing to a Level-Up Session which included projects like a side table and ladder shelf.

“Being scared or intimidated to try out new experiences like woodworking is totally normal. Many women want to relive their Kemahiran Hidup days in school (some had bad experiences, and want to redeem themselves).

The couple said: “We wanted all the women who come to build with us to feel comfortable learning woodworking at their own pace, and to ask questions without feeling out of place. We learn, we laugh, and we make mistakes together.

“When they finish their first project, they will feel a sense of ownership, building something with their own two hands.

“We believe you have to tap into your inner child to be willing and ready to try new things and not be scared.”

They added that woodworking doesn’t require having to build in a large space with an arsenal of power tools, as most urbanites today live in apartments.

“A basic setup which includes a small range of hand tools and a small table can get you on your way into woodworking, especially if you want to do some DIY around the house. Knowing the time of day to hammer your project together also helps keep the neighbours at bay at least,” said Adi and Aida.

You can follow Adi and Aida on Instagram @adiandaida to keep up with their latest projects and workshops.

$!Aida using a jigsaw.
Aida using a jigsaw.

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