INDUSTRIAL DESIGN RESEARCH PROJECT
We were approached by Megan Valentine, a fourth year industrial design student at Massey University in Wellington, seeking advice on her final year project.
“I am looking into design for grief and how the products surrounding death could aid in the grieving process. I would also like my final design to be environmentally conscious”.
After an initial meeting we recommended associations, relevant publications and introduced Megan to various experts in the funeral industry. She already had a well conceived concept and a deep understanding of her subject matter.
Megan had chosen two very unsexy subjects – death and grief.
Her concept, ‘Life Topography’ enables a terminally ill person the opportunity to reflect and record prompted personal data and milestones on-line, resulting in a digital and physical legacy.
This project offers a tool for a terminally ill patient to begin to process their loss of potential. The end result, generated by the thoughts and emotions of a dying patient, produces a tactile souvenir of the deceased, by the deceased, for the living.
On death, the captured data is then processed providing instruction to create a three dimensional sculpture, made from sustainable timber, divided into multiple sections, which is then placed on the coffin.
At the funeral, the sculpture offers mourners the opportunity to approach the coffin, to make a choice, to connect and leave with a souvenir of the deceased. The unique morphic piece, generated from the thoughts of the dying person, is tactile and genuinely laden with sentiment.
Individually, each piece resonates, making sense as part of the larger communal sculpture – the loss can be mourned intimately and personally.
The memorial becomes a digital headstone, appropriate for burial or cremation, globally accessible and minimising the use of stoneware or metals used for plaques. We think this is a revolutionary concept which could influence the future of our mourning practices. We wish Megan every success with her Industrial Design degree.