NIRUK design studio and its Material Lab

Founded in 2011 by Nina Ruthe near Cologne – since 2013 also joined by David AntoninNiruk design studio experiments with and develops new ideas and methods, always trying to find the most appropriate materials and tools. The designers have created a real Material Lab, where they devote themselves every day to the theme of form and materiality, creating new products. “We want to understand the things around us. Experimenting and immersing ourselves in processes is the basis with which we create new designs. We take existing things as inspiration, combine them and create new ones”. – says Niruk. (Cover Corcrete, ph. Thomas Wiuf Schwartz)

Guided by curiosity and intuition, Nina Ruthe and David Antonin develop an exciting materiality in their designs. One example is Corcrete, part of WeVux’s new and free Materials Design Map, a material created by combining two resources with contrasting qualities, cork and concrete. Over the years the material has been refined and the process patented, in 2016 it won the Biennial Interieur Kortrijk Award, the Green Product Award and the Green Product Traders Award in Stockholm. This year Corcrete also won the German Design Award 2024.

After an intensive development phase, the focus was on finding the right production partner: in 2021, the designers came into contact with Hartis, a Belgian family business with a passion for craftsmanship, manual work and innovation, and long-term track record of projects that involve natural stone, terrazzo and concrete. The result of this collaboration are tailor-made solutions that include comprehensive advice on project planning and technical implementation for a wide variety of interiors.

Designed for today’s spaces and customised projects, Corcrete is versatile in its variety of uses and visual and tactile qualities: it can be used as a floor and wall covering, as well as for furniture and surfaces. If at first glance the material looks like terrazzo, it’s velvety and warm to the touch thanks to the cork. Compared to conventional concrete materials, Corcrete is about 40% lighter due to the addition of cork granulate from Portuguese production; ; in addition, much less sand, an increasingly scarce resource, is needed in the production process. The material is produced in white, black and grey, and there are no standard dimensions because each solution is designed and manufactured exclusively for and with the customer. An example of its use can be found in VEJA’s New York headquarters – designed by Brooklyn-based architecture firm JDY. The trainer brand also follows sustainable principles in its interior design: natural, aesthetic, casual and appealing. Niruk has therefore developed furniture and a custom-made bench in Corcrete to complete the interior.

Cork, but also glass and porcelain: at the moment, Nina and David have also turned their attention to working with glass and ceramics. With the former they have created a multitude of unconventional and special products, with ceramics the first results are the CALM warmer, the DIP wardrobe knob and new surfaces and textures. In addition, this year Niruk also got awarded with a second German Design Award for their door handle BAU, designed for the Italian company Olivari. The handle is a material combination from brass and marble. The marble that is used comes from production offcuts that otherwise would go to waste. 

“We work with all sorts of materials as product designers – cork, metal, wood and natural fibers. Next to CMF we do product design and also Exhibition design. So we can say that we are a multidisciplinary design studio with a passion for material.” – affirms Niruk

To find out more about Niruk’s products and method visit their website and follow them on Instagram. Here, you can find here the Corcrete material on the Materials Design Map.

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