The material COCOA is made with 50% of surplus material from local industrial chocolate production and is mixed with further ingredients which are vegan, biodegradable and non harmful to the environment. COCOA is solid with a shiny surface and is water-repellant. It can be remoulded several times without material loss with low energy consumption and all ingredients are compostable. These qualities highlight the circularity of the material, which can be reviewed in it's single stages within the 'Life-cycle of COCOA' - a tool in development, created by Paula Nerlich, which aims to guide through the life of a new material by defining crucial questions to ask at different stages, with the vision to thus support reflection on the sustainability and circularity of the processes and products.

A demand for products that will allow consumers to live more environmentally conscious to reduce their personal impact, whilst being able to sustain a high quality life style, is rising.

In search for this change, consumers are embracing radical new solutions, either introduced to them by their trusted brands or coming from a growing global movement that embraces methods for cosmetics and self care products that are based on recipes. Globally, the exploration of DIY natural cosmetics is booming and embracing stores that offer re-fill of natural ingredients.

This creates a massive playground for impactful new ways of delivering products and involving the consumer in a highly transparent way on the journey towards self-care products within a sustainable system.

Within this sustainable system, the most desired way is to refuse the unnecessary, reduce what is needs and re-use wherever we can.

KUSK re-thinks packaging through a circular material framework.





Strategic research
Conceptual work
Industrial design



The story of KUSK begins with the circular material COCOA, developed by Material Designer Paula Nerlich with the aim to support the elimination of food waste by using it as resource to create circular biomaterials.

 The resource used are cocoa bean shells, a main by-product of cocoa that is separated from the bean during the roasting process. In the global chocolate industry, for every metric ton of dry cocoa bean produced, there are 10 tons of cocoa bean shells leftover as surplus. 

This surplus is partly used for gardening, feedstock and tea, but much of it is usually considered as “waste” and left to rot on the cocoa plantation, which can cause environmental problems, such as greenhouse gas.

KUSK is a set of reusable containers made from the circular material COCOA.

The containers come in 3 sizes and are complemented with a tray. The containers have lids, are washable and fit into each other, when empty, for easy carrying to take them to a re-fill shop.

KUSK is designed for self-assembly cosmetics with the tray acting as a canvas, similar to a painter's palette, on which the cosmetics can be freshly prepared for facial application.

The easy to use and re-fill set of KUSK aims to support the empowerment of the consumer to reduce their environmental impact and to care for the planet, whilst supporting their self-care rituals. The growing knowledge about self-made care-products, makes it easier for consumers to go this step and try simple recipes. Our speculative concept taps into this growing market.

We believe in re-thinking the existing, rather than creating new.
With COCOA and the concept of KUSK we draw upon the extensive resources we have and return to practises of care around materials and products.

For the design team, KUSK is a first step to evolve the concept of packaging through new circular narratives that engage the user in new self-care and planet-care rituals as well as and through sensory experiences support the users well-being.

KUSK is an invitation to open-up opportunities for more sustainable and collaborative partnership between circular materials and products!