While studying at Parsons School of Design in New York, Calcutta native Nidhi Goenka got inspired by the Bauhaus movement of 1919. Which can probably be said about more than a few design students. But it’s what she did with that inspiration that’s notable—founding a thriving company that focuses on using materials in their most appropriate form (as per Bauhaus), while making homewares that are as amusing and fun to look at as they are, well, functional.
You earned a degree in product design—what’s your guiding design principle?
Design has always been about creating objects that meet at the intersection of playful, practical and sustainable. What I mean by sustainable is not just the materials we use, but what happens to them once the product reaches the end of its life. At Keep It Fun/ctional, we follow the principle of Cradle to Cradle, where all materials in the object can go back to their original state and be either reused, recycled or upcycled.
What about business? How did you find your way?
Ornamentation is a big part of Indian design, which celebrates Indian culture but at the same time, might not be everyone’s taste. I also noticed a gap in the market between well-designed and well-made everyday products. Seeing this an opportunity to create something minimal and fuss-free and yet practical and fun, Fun/ctional was created with the principles of Bauhaus.
How does your region impact your work?
Calcutta is such a food-loving city where people really take their time to enjoy and savor food. This naturally creates a demand for products around food, and that’s how our tableware collection came into being.
How has the pandemic impacted your brand?
Our business converted to completely online, with Instagram being a huge support. The pandemic also made it very difficult to communicate with new vendors and for them to sample new products. So instead of pushing against that wall, we kept exploring cork more. And today, our brand identity has become synonymous with cork and we thank the pandemic for that. (PS: We still plan to explore more materials.)
You spoke earlier about sustainability. How do you try to incorporate it in your daily life?
I purchase from local brands as much as possible. I carry my own reusable bag when going shopping. And I don’t buy any plastic for packaging of fun/ctional orders.
Last question. What are three things you love about your typical work day?
Having a clear plan of execution at the beginning of the day. Coffee in the middle. Experimenting and exploring in between.