design for death


memento by Dipl. Des. Gesine Hillmann, Dipl. Des. Jan Regett from germany

designer's own words:

We are constantly writing our own digital memoirs by using email and social-networks, supported and co-written by our friends. What we'll possess at life's end is a complete digital copy of our life. By means of an individually encoded program personal data is filtered and systematized, allowing one to personalize and decide the shape of one's memorial object. Each individual object is unique in form, shaped by one's history.

 Memento transforms digital heritage into physical objects, as a representation of the data. The form is inspired by the phenomenon of erosion. Over the course of time traces are washed into the stone that tell the stories of the past. A program supplied with the email correspondence of the deceased takes the role of the „editor“, filtering the data that was written throughout the person’s life. It organizes the information into four fields: professional social, emotional, and geographical. The program filters by comparing the information with wordlists for semantic correlations and analyses the meaning of the different fields quantitatively over the course of time. This information generates the unique sculptural relief for each individual. A CNC mill transposes the generative form into a casting mold for the concrete block or directly into a wood relief. Memento unites the traces of the individual for a „small“ eternity in a concrete object.

Context: Forms and spaces of mourning are changing: life in a highly mobile society; the increased emphasis on individuality; our multifaceted relationships to God, nature, and science, as well as the internet itself demand changes in the memorial culture. We constantly find new forms of expression of this changing culture in the digital realm. But they can rarely substitute for the real places and their atmospheric complexities. The grave as the site of commemoration still plays an important role. The Memento concept combines both worlds, taking into account the interests of the deceased as well as of the bereaved. The individuality of the single life should be preserved also in death. The mementos of remembrance that we are left with by the deceased give a testimony of this uniqueness. The object becomes a personal object of remembrance for the spectator. The object and the information stored in it are trigger and key to the memories of the spectator. 

 Also in modern society not everyone has the possibility to visit a traditional place of mourning such as a cemetery. This memorial stone can represent the memory of the deceased in different places as it is easily reproducible, because of how it is produced. Since it is not restricted to the cemetery, the bereaved have the opportunity to choose the place of remembrance. The object does not only function as the classic symbol of loss, it also represents the key to the digital heritage of the deceased. It functions as a portal to the information that has determined the stone’s form locally, via the internet or a smartphone. As such the memorial stone turns into a space of encounter for the bereaved. In this community we can find alleviation of our grief.

scenario of usemementoa persons life cast in concrete[jwplayer config=”mplayer” width=”818px” height=”600px” file=”″ html5_file=”″ download_file=”″]video

mementowooden versionmementoremembrance in a personal contextmementosoftware for filtering personal data in order to generate the individual memorial objectmementooutput of the personal data by means of a cnc-mill

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

    shortlisted entries

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,082 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample