Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Industrial Design

Department

Industrial Design

First Advisor

Paolo Cardini

Second Advisor

Emily Shapiro

Third Advisor

Dr. Mimi Gellman

Abstract

‘Beautiful Dirt’ is a project meant to help people think about death as a way to learn and grow, rather than a ‘never happening’ taboo. Contemporary research into western dialogues around death show a consistent anxiety towards being forgotten, as well as a fear of being a burden when passing away. The abject nature of the topic leaves people diminishing the weight of the things they leave behind, and the things they forget to. This perpetuates a cycle of denial in order to avoid stress, emburdening loved ones with an unplanned mass of personal items and piecemeal stories to assemble, culminating in an anxious end-of-life care experience, all due to the lack of any platform to process these inaccessible emotions.

In order to help break down the fears around death planning in aging populations, this project proposes the introduction of a new ‘tombstone’ archetype, alongside a prompted ‘on-boarding’ journaling method meant to be filled with life stories. The tombstone functions as a family memorial archive which houses all of a deceased person’s journal stories, alongside any physical mementos people choose to place when visiting. The purpose of creating these two active objects is to:

a) Help localize a person’s stories in a ritualized space, so they maintain meaning and allow family / close peoples to access intimate moments that would otherwise be lost.

b) Facilitate intergenerational understanding through publicly accessible personal histories.

c) Familiarize western people to a communal and reciprocal death dialogue, relieving stress in the death-planning process through habit-formed self-reflection..

d) Mitigate the common sense of purposelessness and anxiety found in elderly retirement communities.

e) Break away from the classist and traditionally hierarchical tropes of ‘lot-style’ cemeteries, shifting to a more space conscious and ecologically circular alternative.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.