Envisaging his atelier at a crossroad between public art, architecture, urbanism and design optimisation, Nuru Karim encourages his team to learn, trip, fall, rise and evolve all the time. “Innovate or die, is a maxim we live by,” says the founder and principal of NU.DE. An alumnus of KRVIA, Mumbai, and the Architectural Association, London, Karim believes that the studio’s design language has been built over sound architecture education and has evolved through travel, reading and exploring — both art and architecture — across Mumbai, Montreal and New York.
Karim observes that the most amazing aspect of establishing a practice in India is that “we get to experience the richness and cultural diversity across various states.” Working in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat has been a humbling experience for the team, leaving its members yearning for more knowledge.
NU.DE’s core design philosophy revolves around research, observation, analysis, inspiration and representation. “Education is a continual process. Research and collaboration are fundamental core values. We define our practice as multi-disciplinary. We collaborate not only with architects and engineers, but also with writers, artists, sculptors, product designers, robotic engineers, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers — to name a few,” discloses Karim.
As a constantly evolving practice in a scenario where demands keep changing with every passing season,
Karim insists that sustainability, contextual relevance
and environmental sensitivity are of utmost value.
Since architecture is a complex organism working in sync with economic and political forces, amongst others, he adds that adaptability and agility in design is as critical as the need to innovate for survival. “There are several moving parts working in harmony or violently opposing each other. Both conditions are equally important. A designer must see the forest for the trees.”

Looking Back

From their notable projects, Karim cites his art installation Charkha, in Mumbai, as a project he is personally attached to. He believes this was the project that led to the evolution of the practice by staging a sustained inquiry into the domains of public art, architecture and computational design.

Looking forward

Some of Karim’s upcoming projects will explore the cultural and social diversity of India through research and education. This includes the Rath Pavilion for Tata Steel in Bhubaneswar and a mosque in Pune. NU.DE is also attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest cardboard sculpture with its Paper Boat project.

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