Wood for good: Woodworkers Rustic Soul Designs, from left, Marina Maerluzzi, Niall Walsh and Nick Brooker, want to give back to the community. PICTURE: ISAAC MCCOUBREY


An Arrowtown furniture-making business is doing its bit to give back to the community.

Rustic Soul Designs, which specialises in custom, recycled wood furniture, has released a
spring collection of smaller artistic pieces and will donate 10% of profits from each piece sold to a different community organisation.

Marina Merluzzi, a quantity surveyor who works alongside Rustic Soul Designs’ founder Niall Walsh, says the idea comes from previous volunteering their team’s done with the Wakatipu Reforestation Trust.

‘‘The feeling you get when you actually do something like that is so rewarding … it just makes us really happy,’’ Merluzzi says.

Pieces include a bike stand, a food-serving board and veggie garden name plates.

Proceeds from their sales will go to the Queenstown Trails Trust, Kiwi Harvest and the Queenstown Harvest Community Garden, respectively.

‘‘We do see them [community organisations] around and we like what they do, so we really wanted to support,’’ she says.

The products are made from recycled timber from local joiners in Arrowtown, and the veggie garden name plates are made from wine barrels on-sold by local wineries.

Custom design: Proceeds from the sale of bike stands will go to the Queenstown Trails Trust. PICTURE: MARINA MERLUZZI

Additionally, the business donates its sawdust waste to the Queenstown Harvest Community Garden and local mushrooming business Remarkable Fungi, while its offcuts are used as kindling.

For that reason, and to be more environmentally conscious, they don’t use treated timber because it can’t be burned or composted.

‘‘Five years ago, no one would have even talked about the environment,’’ Merluzzi says.

‘‘But now it’s a conversation that everyone’s having, we are all trying to do our best.

‘‘Even the smallest of decisions can have a big impact.’’

Rustic Soul Designs began four years ago in Arrowtown, and Merluzzi says it was a conscious decision to stay there because they love the connectedness of the community.

‘‘We are trying to do some thing for the greater community… all these people doing all these charities do a lot more than we do … we just want to help out a little bit.’’

Merluzzi says they intend to continue doing collections for each season on top of their
day-to-day custom work, which can be anything from bespoke tables and chairs to chess boards.

Orders can be made by emailing