Over the last decade, the funeral industry has become lost on the path of merchandise and distribution. As most industries were increasing the quality of products, refining user experience, and selling online, funeral homes were doubling down on offering cheaply manufactured goods that you couldn’t buy on the internet. This has not been an effective strategy for funeral homes and we are just starting a period of correction. The option for online shopping is slowly integrating into the funeral space as well as some emerging products with top-notch quality (You can see our favorites here). This week, an experientially powerful modern urn was unveiled by Dutch designer Maria Tyakina. The Dome urn has two components: an inner container crafted from white Bianco Carrara marble and an exterior glass dome cover hand-painted with an elegant fading ombre. The effect of this combination of layering and materials is profound.
“After many conversations with people who were looking for cremation urns and struggling to find a contemporary and non-somber design, it became very clear to me that there is a need for a different way of thinking and designing when it comes to such a special object in someone’s life,” Tyakina told Dezeen. User experience tends to be overlooked in funeral merchandise. We forget that when we return ashes to the customer in a zip-tied bag stored in a black plastic box, the remains take on the value of those materials by association – disposable, ugly, unremarkable. Alternatively, if we return the remains in a 24K gold box, the family then perceives them as having significant value and preciousness. Maybe the plastic box was popularized intentionally to create poor experiences for cremation families with the hope of pushing them back to burial… but whatever the reason, this needs to change. The plastic box is a 100% unacceptable way to return ashes to a family.
“With the increasing popularity of cremation, more people are choosing to keep the remains of the deceased in their home as a memorial for their loved ones,” Tyakina continued. “Our contact with the remains of a passed-away person was typically guided by a technical, unemotional and hygienic approach.”The Dome urn shows us the type of moving experience we can have with cremated remains when given the right type of thoughtful design and experience.“The timelessness and durability provided by marble, and the fragility and extra care suggested by glass formed the ideal combination needed for the urn.”
Tyakina carefully chose the materials crafting a precise type of experience for the families. The marble projects a combination of tradition, value, security, and confidence. The painted glass dome imbues a sense of preciousness, protection, and mystery. Once assembled, it becomes clear that there is a final component and the most important part of this design – the vacant space between the exterior of the urn and the interior of the glass. This space feels like a contained spiritual atmosphere that is both comforting and compelling. In its final assembled state, the interior marble container can be seen as a ghost-like silhouette through the ombre painted glass. This visual experience paired with the spiritual atmosphere phenomenon results in an unavoidable and powerful sensation of presence. The shape of this modern urn was chosen in an equally as thoughtful way.
Tyakina explains, “Found in Persian, Roman, Chinese, Western European and Islamic architecture, a mortuary tradition of domes exists across the ancient world, as well as their symbolic association with the sky.The Dome urn was commissioned by ST Natuursteen and will be shown as part of the Dutch Stuff presentation taking place at London’s annual design festival, which will run from September 20-23, 2018. How can we tastefully send cremated remains home with families who do not choose to buy an urn?