After selling his design company Muuto to Knoll in 2018, co-founder Peter Bonnén took some time to contemplate his next step. Should he start a new business from scratch or join an existing one? It took him a couple of months to realize the answer was staring right at him across the breakfast table. Peter’s wife Jasmi Bonnén had been running the innovative natural beauty brand NUORI since 2015 and was ready to bring Peter on to help expand the business.
Muuto success was built on the ambition to challenge the stagnated design industry with new perspectives on Scandinavian design tradition. In a very similar fashion NUORI has been challenging the mass beauty industry with its freshly-blended skincare and haircare formulas. To Peter and Jasmi it now felt like a natural next step to apply their joint philosophy of functionality, simplicity, and fresh thinking to everyday beauty and grooming tools.
“We saw a real gap in the market for beauty tools and accessories that combine high-quality and functionality with a contemporary look and feel” Peter explains. “Take for example hair brushes. There are a few very reputable, traditional companies that make high-quality hairbrushes, but none of them have given their products any design love in decades.”
A future-proof challenge
Peter wanted to develop the accessories line in close collaboration with a group of industrial designers and creatives who had an appreciation for Scandinavian design tradition and understood the NUORI’s brand promise of freshness, purity, and efficacy. This led him to the New York and Copenhagen based creative agency NR2154. Peter gave the designers a future-proof challenge: Design a line of luxury beauty accessories that will keep on looking and feeling fresh. And produce them in a quality that is long-lasting and sustainable.
This kicked off a two-year-long design and product development process. The starting point for each item was classic shapes. Each object was then developed using the cornerstones of Scandinavian design philosophy: superior functionality and simplicity, attention to detail, and impeccable craftsmanship. “We had a clear vision from the beginning to elevate the NUORI promise of 100% efficacy. We turned towards iconic beauty accessories that have brought ease and practicality to grooming rituals for centuries, and by deconstructing their functionality and shapes - and adding contemporary aesthetics - we have now developed the unique NUORI accessories shape language”, says NR2154 Design Director Felix de Voss.
Countless hours were used to discussing real usage situations and need as well as trying to find new solutions to meet these needs. For example, both of the cosmetic cases were designed with travelers in mind. Everyone could recognize the situation where you have packed a beautiful cosmetic bag to bring with you on a trip, but then end up actually using the cheap see-through plastic bag where all your liquids went in at the airport. This is why both of NUORI’s sets incorporate a transparent case that doubles as an internationally-approved air travel liquids container.
Color development for the line was also central to the design process. “To find the right colors, we spent a lot of time on visual research. We looked to nature, fashion, and Nordic culture. Finnish and Danish design history also played a large role, given the nationalities of the two brand founders” tells NR2154’s Senior Art Director Julie Lysbo. Finding the exact shades took several rounds and involved reviewing hundreds of color samples at the New York showroom of a high-end Italian supplier of cellulose acetate. This company supplies the material to the world’s leading brands of sunglasses and eyeglass frames, and now for NUORI’s combs. The result is a color palette consisting of the fresh and deep Ocean, clean and pure Neutral, delicate yet modern Rose, and the classic Black.
Sustainability in design
Every single material chosen for the line was carefully vetted by Jasmi, NUORI co-founder and CEO. “I am obsessed with the quality and purity of the ingredients in NUORI’s cosmetic formulas, so finding the perfect, sustainable materials for the accessories line has been my focus from day one.” For example, cow leather has been shown to have the highest negative impact on our environment compared to any other fiber or textile. This is why the design team embarked on a long search for the perfect vegan leather for cosmetic cases. The material chosen has only one-third of the environmental impact of cow leather while delivering on beautiful tactility and ease of use.
For a similar reason, the material chosen for the combs is not plastic but cellulose acetate. This is made from wood pulp that stems from common species of trees such as pine, fir, and birch and has sustainable forestry certifications issued by either FSC or PEFC.
However, using more sustainable materials and manufacturing techniques is only one half of the equation at NUORI. Sustainable design is the second. As Peter explains: “We aim to design objects that you will want to use and cherish for a long time. This requires a look that is contemporary, yet timeless and a quality that is long-lasting. For me, a big part of sustainability is to have people buying better quality, less often.”