Redesigning Death

Death can be such a morbid thing. We all experience it at some point in our lives and yet, it can be difficult for us to talk about it. It is for this reason that the way we handle death and the rituals surrounding it, have remained relatively untouched over the course of time. However, with new environmental stressors and the increase of technology, there are a number of designers and innovators who are rethinking and redesigning death to be more sustainable, more practical and more beautiful.

The Sustainable Urn of the Future 



Bios Incube is a smart, sustainable urn of the future. This app-enabled planter helps turn your loved one’s cremated remains into a tree. It was designed for city dwellers who are seeking a more natural and sustainable alternative to traditional burials and want to meaningfully connect with their loved ones who have passed away. 



The urn is planted inside of a large, white incubator. A smart sensor is placed on the soil’s surface which tracks the conditions for the plant to grow. It monitors temperature, light exposure and moisture levels in both the atmosphere and the soil. The sensor then sends this data to a smartphone app so that the plant can always be monitored. 

Organic Burial Pods Turn Cemeteries into Forests 

Capsula Mundi is a burial alternative where your loved one is placed inside an organic burial pod that is planted in the ground. Designed by Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, the end goal is to turn cemeteries into sacred forests.

The project was created to help us change the way we think about death. While most believe death is the end of life on earth and the beginning of a life elsewhere, Capsula Mundi shows that death is far from the end, but instead the beginning of a new life journey that will benefit Mother Earth in the future. As the designers described, it’s a “way back to nature.” 



The family of the departed has the option to choose between using the ashes or bodies of the deceased. For ashes, the remains are placed inside small capsulas. Bodies are placed inside the organic egg-shaped pod in a fetal position. The capsulas are buried under the soil and a tree is put on top of it. The ashes or the bodies will provide the nutrients the tree needs to continue growing.

Avatars Give A Digital Afterlife to the Deceased

Technology has brought solutions to a lot of problems. But, when it comes to death, nature always wins. Rather than beat death, there are startups aiming to sidestep it by creating virtual avatars of the deceased and allowing them to live on in the digital world. 



A group from developers from MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program have created, a site which promises to create a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends after you pass away.

The website implies that it creates your avatar by compiling ‘almost everything’ you’ve ever created in your life and uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to recreate your personality after death. It doesn’t make you immortal of course, no amount of technology can do that (at least not yet) but it does offer an alternative way to stay connected with loved ones.

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