Product Design with Nidhi, founder of Fun/ctional

Product Design is “a conversation between people and the products they interact with.” Through her brand, Fun/ctional, Designer Nidhi Goenka joins the conversation using sustainable material cork as a medium to create. Fun/ctional is an independent brand from Calcutta, India that creates modern and unique home products. Meet Nidhi - founder, product designer, and writer, as she shares the brand’s inspiration, journey, and vision.

nidhi-goenka-in-d-co-functionalImage: Nidhi Goenka, founder of Fun/ctional 

I: What does Fun/ctional mean?

N: Fun/ctional means Fun & Functional. We offer playful products for the home. It stands for well-made and well-designed products; how you envision your home to be. 

I: What are your brand’s biggest inspirations?

N: I look to the Memphis era and Charles and Ray Eames - they did colours really well. Charles and Ray Eames were experimental and honest to the materials they used - they were revolutionary - that’s what I want to be.

I: What inspires you to create?

N: The need for anything - I am a solution-oriented person. I enjoy making things which solve problems. With the wave shelves - it solves the need to hang towels, and is also a space saver - the shelf has a fabric layer that allows you to adjust the width according to the space you have.

wave-bathroom-wall-shelf-functional-in-d-coImage: Fun/ctional Bathroom Wall Shelf 

I: What materials do you use?

N: Currently I’m exploring cork - it has so much potential. Cork is not a product grown in India, but I source mine from Indian manufacturers. I love the fact that it is sustainable - I don’t think that’s the main factor - I look more on how they can contribute to the functionality of the product itself. Cork is antibacterial, a property that makes it ideal for the bathroom. I look at sustainability very differently. I want products to last forever or if they go back to the cycle of recycling I want them to go back into the cycle efficiently. When people talk about recycling - it’s beyond that, it’s about how efficiently it can be recycled and reused versus simply degradable.

Video: Cork Containers by Fun/ctional

I: How did your experience in New York and at Parsons contribute to your brand’s vision? 

N: In New York, I saw people were very self-sufficient. In India, we are people-sufficient. India doesn’t have the same self sufficiency. I really wanted the products to make people’s lives more efficient. As New York is so busy, people invest in products that make their life more efficient. 

I: What does it look like to take an idea and turn it into something tangible?

N: Sometimes it’s deciding what the product will be. More often I start with either a problem or a material. For example, a desk organiser - I wanted to solve the problem of creating neatness in my bookshelf. I then start testing what is working out, showing it to people, and seeing how it is used. I believe product testing is very important, even with a basic prototype in order to understand the structure. Once that’s done I start looking for vendors and finishing. It’s also a question of what the material can do - understanding how much you can push the material and the craftsmen too.

functional-cork-tray-setImage: Tray Set by Fun/ctional

I: What does independent mean to you?

N: Independent means the ability to do what you want while it’s not really coming in the way of other people’s independence.

Shop Fun/ctional's range of cork products on IN-D.CO by clicking here.

The range of product includes server ware, desk organizers, stationery and cork storage for the bathroom and beyond!

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