design for death

the host the guest

the host the guest by barrero carsenat fabien from france

designer's own words:

"The Host & The Guest" Urns.

Forewords / Context:

The dead is a taboo subject. A word for which we keep silent. It is rather difficult to place it as a moment of enjoyment. On the other hand, outside the occidental, tribal communities continue to celebrate the death as a stage, they do not express it as a fate, but as a new threshold of the life.

Rules and other strict laws which frame funeral ceremonies in Europe or in North America participated to distort the death by removing any natural aspect regarding process but also regarding the human feelings. We are nowadays in a mobile world, it has never been so simple to travel around the globe and of this fact the absence of a person is a part of our habits.

Nevertheless the journey without return which represents the death of someone is still surrounded with a bad aura such a curse. Contrary to certain ethnic groups as Toraja in Indonesia, which lives with their ancestors mummified into the house. This relationship with the mobility, which I previously expressed is important because it shows the disappearance of the distances and the desire to be everywhere. The immortality, the eternal life and the wish to spread our mind on the world, are fundamental which we found at Egyptians and Mayas eras.

With westernization of the planet, cremations and burials are the main kind of funeral ceremonies. How can we keep linked with nature? How can we get free from unnatural codes building limits between life and death? Can the nature be an actor or poetic guide line, helping to join both? Many questions around the aim of the death and our contemporary way of life, to bring us to meditate.

"The Host & The Guest" explainations:

Studio Fabien Barrero+carsenat wished to concern a look focused to a physical memorial and the notion of time, in the incineration's ceremonies. This method represents today 41 % of ceremonies in the USA, 71% in Great Britain or still 98 % in Japan. It allows in particular to fit with hygiene constraints, limited space and financial cost. It is a method which offers freedom both to the deceased and to his family.

About the Ecological and sustainable aspect of the cremation, it can fit with the nature under conditions: no use of chemicals for embalming of bodies, incineration process in a unit where energies and gases management are correctly supervised (As companies already do or develop). Globaly, the cremation is a funeral process more reasoned compared with a traditional burial today.

The funeral object proposed is made of copper, it allows the volume of ashes of the defunt. This cone is pushed in the bark of a tree, which is taking host's role guide up to hundreds of years. The body is connected with the nature at the rate of the growth of the vegetable, which embrace more and more the urn. Death is a difficult step for the surrounding persons, a violent moment sudenly apearing. The urn hammering into the tree is a way to empty the pains, to express yourself regarding the missing by a physical act.

Scenario & process:

After cremation, the urn (urns) are filled with ashes. They are sealed and only the little chain, where you can read an annotation (freely chosen, it can be the name of the person, phrase, number ...) is mobile. The urns will be ramed with a hammer into the bark's trees. which need to be already aged and with a trunk big enought (at least 40cm in diameter). The hammer's action will seal the urn, riveting definitly the cap. Sinking five centimeters in wood, the chain moves with the wind being the only part off the shaft. The extra ashes left after filling the urns should be scattered on the soil next to the trees, given them a natural energy resource, needed for a better growth.

The ceremonial can take place into special memorial forest which can be set-up everywhere, bringing the humans to another way to think about the green spaces.

This process is as well interesting in the approach of the relations that persons would have with their deceased relatives. We can imagine a child saying to his father: "Daddy, have you seeing how tall Gran'pa is since last time we have been visiting him (...) ?" regarding to the tree growth. The nature linked to human offer a chance to alleviate pains.


The urn shape Funerals processesProcess / evolution of the urn (guest) into the tree (host)End of funeral processHow does it work scenarioFrom inside the Host

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