Janelle De Souza
Conventional furniture often times clutters small living spaces.
Woodcrafter Cyrus Ageemoolar custom designs may be just the right fit.
Ageemoolar’s main focus is to make furniture for smaller spaces that cannot accommodate traditional furniture.
While the 19-year-old is not limiting himself to that category, he enjoys coming up with innovative ways to make small spaces functional and beautiful with the use of iron and wood.
Ageemoolar first dabbled in making furniture when he needed a desk for his room but did not have the space for a conventional design. He saw a video on YouTube of a Murphy desk, one that is mounted to the wall, constructed out of wood. He showed his father, a fabricator and welder, and together, they made one out of iron.
Two years later, in 2020, he finished secondary school at ASJA Boys’ College in San Fernando but had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.
“It was getting really frustrating, sitting home, doing nothing, and seeing everyone you went to school with doing something.”
So he decided to make some Murphy desks out of iron and fibreboard, and try to sell them on Facebook Marketplace.
“I wanted to make some to sell because I was pretty sure a lot of people had the same problem I had: they want a table in their room but the space is so limited. So I made a couple of those tables and that was it.
“People were messaging me, asking for different Murphy desk designs, or if I could do this and that. Even if I had no experience doing it, I was like, ‘Yeah, sure. I’m doing that.’ I figured it out and I was surprised how good they came out. I didn’t even know I could do it!”
One client asked if he could make a Murphy desk out of wood and he agreed, even though he had never worked with wood before. But, he had, and still gets, guidance from a friend of his father, who was a woodworker. Then he worked out a solution and just did it.
Ageemoolar said he learned the basics of fabrication from his father, as well as by watching HGTV and YouTube videos. He also worked with his father on jobs, and still does, but he picked up woodwork by himself.
While he continues to work with his father doing welding and fabricating, he also does his own ironwork such as gates, burglar proof, and windows. However, his passion is for woodwork so he is putting all his effort into his furniture, building shelves, tables, cabinets and more at his La Romaine home.
He said he uses computer-aided designs so his clients could see a 3D representation of the product before it is built, which allows for adjustments.
Ageemoolar told Sunday Newsday he believed the seed for woodworking was planted when he was around eight years old. His parents were opening a grocery so there was some construction work going on. The workers often left pieces of wood on the floor, and he would take the pieces, cut them with a hacksaw or backsaw, and make simple toys.
“My parents were afraid about me using a hacksaw but they were never the types to discourage the creative path. They were always supportive. Even now, for really big jobs or jobs I’m not fully experienced with, it’s guaranteed dad will help. They were always like, ‘Whatever you want to do, I want you to do that.’”
And what he wanted to do was craft and he was always looking for ways to make money on his own rather than relying on his parents.
He recalled his first business was in primary school selling origami animals. He had several origami books and, for two years from standards three to five, he would make the designs and sell them to his fellow students.
And they were not your basic swans or flowers either. He made dragons, hummingbirds, dinosaurs, flamingos, and other animals, and would charge depending on the complexity of the design.
“Growing up, you never hear me talk about getting a job somewhere. I never cared to be the doctor or the police officer. Anything I spoke about was along the lines of me having my own business.”
Previously, he ran an online sunglasses business with his brother. He also made bongs from old glass bottles, and he had a few other craft businesses. He shut down everything else to focus on making furniture.
Ageemoolar said his attraction to woodwork is the ability to mix different types of wood to get designs and contrasts – something that cannot be done with metalwork. He also incorporates lights in some pieces which makes them glow.
“It’s also something I do not see woodworkers in Trinidad doing. Very few people have their own identity because, I think, most older woodworkers were taught the same things by their dads who were taught the same thing by their dads. It was passed down and nobody really tried to go beyond what they know.
“I never thought of going to trade school because I learned the fundamentals from my dad’s friend who guides me to this day. And school teaches you there is only one way to do things and I am not that type of person. It doesn’t allow you to make mistakes and that prevents you from learning. The experience I could gain from doing it on my own is much more valuable.”
He said he only uses quality material and did not want to continually have to go through the process of explaining his prices to clients. So, his next step is to build a website where people could select a piece of furniture and customise it to suit their taste and budget.
The website would give people information on each option, such as the benefits of the different types of lights, wood, or finish, and they could view the end product.
In this way clients could place their orders, wire transfer the payment, and he could have it delivered to them. It would be easy, convenient, and the process would increase his productivity.