The Creative Conversations Initiative, as part of the Creative Professions and Digital Arts Department at the University of Greenwich, presents: Designing Death: Challenges and Aesthetics for the 21st Century
Dying is one of the most personal experiences we will have in our lives and yet there are still norms for what bereavement and funerals should look and feel like.
This panel will consider the growing movement which questions whether current aesthetics and rituals still speak to our contemporary understanding of death? Funerals in the UK now have more scope than ever to be a richly personal occasion and design is contributing to this movement. The funeral industry is adapting to the contemporary need for more individualised rituals and people’s desire to use funerals as a creative opportunity to further embody or understand the lives of the dead in an individual way. These shifts challenge what the dead mean to us and how bodies and environments merge to create new associations and experiences of death.
The Design Council’s May 2015 post Reinventing death for the twenty-first century reflects this shift by detailing some of the challenges and ways that design could intervene within end of life care, both in terms of the appendages linked to dying at home but also in terms of new rituals, breaking taboos and the introduction of new technologies where appropriate. Additionally design competitions such as Designboom’s Design for Death, the Future Cemetery Project and OPENIDEO’s Reimaging End of Life have opened up this topic for discussion within the design community.
Ivor Williams is a designer who specialises in death and dying, through his work as Senior Design Associate at the Helix Centre and his research and consultancy group Being and Dying. He explores the use of technology-for-good as co-founder of the design company, Humane Engineering. Their first product, Cove, is a music-maker designed to support grieving adolescents.
Louise Winter is a writer and the founder of Poetic Endings - a modern funeral service offering ceremonies of style, substance, relevance and meaning. She's also the editor of the Good Funeral Guide - the only independent resource that exists to help the public get the funeral they want.
Dr. John Troyer is the Director of the Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath. His interdisciplinary research focuses on contemporary memorialization practices, concepts of spatial historiography, and the dead body’s relationship with technology. Dr. Troyer is also a theatre director and installation artist with extensive experience in site-specific performance across the United States and Europe. He is a co-founder of the Death Reference Desk website (http://www.deathreferencedesk.org), the Future Cemetery Project (http://www.futurecemetery.org) and a frequent commentator for the BBC.
Date and Time
Stockwell Street Building, University of Greenwich
11 Stockwell Street