Our Mourning Experience. Redesigned. / by Catherine Van Holder

In recent years the circular economy has served as a coherent framework for systems re-design, for reinventing different processes and parts of our society. We are moving from a mindset of unlimited availability of resources, linear production & consumption cycles and a mechanical worldview into one characterized by circular, closed systems where waste has been designed out of the picture. 

The Nike Considered Index and the Upcycling trend are amongst the most well known examples of production and consumption processes being transformed away from the linear into the circular.

A great, recent example in an area where we least expect it, is the advent of Biodegradable Urns. Those are funerary urns made from biodegradable materials which turn you into a tree after you die. Inside the urn is a pine seed, which can be replaced by any other seed or plant, and will grow to remember your loved one by. That way Bios Urn transforms death into life through nature. 

Imagine forests and parks as the cemeteries of the future, with living trees replacing tombstone as tokens of remembrance. And, hence connecting our need for a farewell ritual not only to a powerful new narrative, but holding the potential for changing our societies mourning experience in it's wake. 

Experience design is the practice of designing products, processes, services, events, and environments with a focus placed on the quality of the user experience and culturally relevant solutions.

The idea of converting cemeteries into forests and parks, and death into life, can be considered a wonderful example of experience design. Imagine the family gathering for a summer picnic besides grandfather's tree. Or a teenager enjoying some alone time on a grey autumn afternoon, writing in her journal, headphones on, with her back supported by the tree planted in honour of her best friend who recently passed away. That way, the creation of spaces in which life and death are intertwined, not only allows for remembrance but for new ways of togetherness, beyond "death do us part".