Good design strikes you when you see it. Whether you’re looking at the graphic colourbursts of a Marimekko cushion, a sculptural Le Klint lampshade or an artful pair of clogs, it sparks a lightning-bolt moment of recognition that’s impossible to forget.
Carina Enstrom Gibb agrees. Enstrom Gibb is the founder of funkis, a lifestyle retailer that combines a laid-back Sydney sensibility with a powerful appreciation of Scandinavian design. Enstrom Gibb runs the Paddington design emporium and Strand Arcade offshoot with the help of Brianna Cheeseman, Rochelle Gibbs, Frida Svensson and Rachael Maude – a collective who share a common creative approach along with an impeccable eye for homewares, fashion and textiles.
“We started importing secondhand furniture and antiques from Sweden in 1995,” offers Gibb. “The next year we decided to do a contemporary version of it. At the time, Bondi was the epicentre for stylists in Australia and funkis managed to gain a following.” It’s not surprising that funkis was conceived in Bondi. The brand might draw heavily on European artisanship, but its palette conjures the turquoise, taupes and muted corals that colour the iconic Sydney suburb.
“I think funkis works because it’s so beachy and light,” Gibb continues. “I think it works for the Australian psyche too. I think the Swedish and Australian mentalities are similar – unfussy and low-key.”
Although funkis is heavily focused on Scandivanian design staples – from exquisite, Marimekko scarves and textiles by iconic Swedish designer Stig Lindberg – the store’s curatorial focus is as imaginative as it is timeless. funkis also stocks up-and-coming local designers including Cheeseman’s own label, Secret South.
Cheeseman attributes the brand’s success to Enstrom Gibb’s combination of passion and vision. “Carina is a real creative powerhouse,” she says. Enstrom Gibb might shy away from such accolades, but Cheeseman’s observation is clearly grounded in fact. funkis recently launched an online store and plans to expand to Melbourne and revamp its Paddington flagship.
And as for Enstrom Gibb’s own inspirations, she can’t get past Stig Lindberg. “I’ve been working with some of those designs for 20 years and I still love them. I think that’s a sign of good design.”