Designers to the Grave

Now you can go out in (sustainable) style.

A design by Creative Coffins. This one is called “The Avid Gardener.”

Everything is customizable these days, including your final resting place. If you’re a romantic epicure how about a coffin designed to resemble a box of chocolates or a bottle of wine? If your pivotal years were spent following Jerry, how about a Grateful Dead motif?

Guernsey, UK-based Creative Coffins started producing a whole host of colorful box designs in May after recognizing the need for environmentally-friendly coffins with flair. Graphic designer Efrem Cockett had been approached by a friend’s wife looking for a personalized casket for her husband’s 70th birthday (apparently there’s no shame in planning ahead). “We sourced a coffin which is basically white and one of the only [sustainable] ones available,” says Cockett. The boxes are made from 60 percent recycled paper and wood pulp from sustainable forests, which reduces the hardwoods, plastic, steel, and other materials that traditionally get buried. The Creative Coffins logo: Green is the Way to Go. (And, not to be too morbid here, but an embalmed body itself is responsible for a large part of the pollution associated with death, so Creative Coffins has been working more and more with woodland burial sites.)

For the design they used a vegetable-based ink and covered the coffin with the recipient’s favorite album cover. The birthday boy was, believe it or not, thrilled and the party guests loved it, too. “He now keeps his cds on it in his lounge.”

Since then the business has gained momentum, with orders coming in from around the world and an average of 2000 hits on the Web site each day. Designing for death is not everyone’s favorite topic, but it’s an issue that effects us all sooner or later. According to Cockett, the appeal of Creative Coffins is that they commemorate what was important in a person in life. At the funeral of one young American in England Cockett says the personalized casket “Was so good for [the family] they actually took photos. They sent them to all his friends in the States. Sure they’re still upset about it, but it became more of a celebration.”

For some other thoughts on the subject take a look at some Next Generation runner up designs.

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