design for death

living memorial stone

living memorial stone by Craig B from uk

designer's own words:

The Living Memorial Stone, is an alternative and contemporary way of the mourning and remembrance of the death of a loved one. Responding to how traditional memorial methods such as tombstones, plaques, sculptures and cut flowers, become a more morbid representation of death as they fall apart, discolour and rot over time. The Living Memorial Stone is a degradable memorial that celebrates the life of a loved one, not a reminder of their death. The stone also acts as an aid to the easing of passing by being a giver and creator of new life.

The product is made of two key layers, each producing a different element of life. The outer layer provides the main bulk of the piece; a seed, nut and animal fat composite. It provides feed and nourishment for a range of natural wide life including birds, squirrels and various species of mice. This provides not only food for animals but also helps the spread of seeds as not all of the animals can fully digest some of the seeds in the mix so are spread through their droppings as a result. The inner layer is a tube of compost impregnated with a tree seed encased in wicker tube, wrapped in bio-degradable cardboard. After outer layer has disappeared the card tube degrades and the impregnated tree seed begins to sprout, with the wicker acting as a marker and a support for the growing tree. The stone is designed to be part buried, with the tube extending further into ground to provide good rooting depth for the seed.

The contents of the stone can be varied under various factors. Personal preference of the deceased, such as a favourite fruit or tree can be decided. The time of year can have an affect; sunflower seeds provided good nutrients all year round, whereas peanuts and other large, soft nuts are not suitable in summer due to choking risk of newborn animals. If buried in the hotter summer months, the fat can be replaced for gelatine as the binder to reduce risk of melting, when in rest of the year fat is more suited to keep animal's reserves up, keeping them strong and healthy.

The shape is simple with no connotations or preconceptions, appealing to anyone of any religion, race or beliefs. The actual shape is an acorn/pot crossover. With the acorn influence coming from the outer material and the pot influence from a pot being a container of something, in this case of life, memories and emotion. Final consideration and most important aspect to the shape was the feel of holding when planting, representational of the final goodbye to dead and the beginning of new life.

The stone provides a foundation for new life in remembrance of that lost. Ever-growing and ever-changing, creating a place of memorial that can be enjoyed by all and is beneficial to the environment and local wildlife. It can be a stand-alone memorial or a compliment to a natural or tradition burial or the site of scattered ashes. The Living Memorial Stone is a celebration and remembrance of the life of a person, not a reminder of their death.


Illustrated image of the memorial stone throughout the stages in it’s lifecycle.Planting of the memorial. It can be used as a headstone or simply in a desired place of remembrance.The planted memorial, the outer seed and fat layer provides feed for wild animals. Whilst underground, the encapsulated tree seed begins to grow.As the outer seed layer is eaten, the sapling begins to sprout.The casting the memorial in a plaster mould using the birdseed and fat composite.

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