Sign Of The Times: Capsule Urn, The iPod Of Funeral Home Products

December 9, 2011
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Designing objets d’art to commemorate the loss of a loved one is a tricky business. Go too fancy, and it looks like you’re trying to turn your dead relative into a pretentious sculpture or consumer product. Steve Prastka’s Capsule Urn project dances close to that line without crossing it, by offering a line of classy-but-modern receptacles for the ashes of those who’ve passed on.

Prastka’s brushed aluminum, black-and-chrome industrial design definitely takes a departure from traditional urns: Seeing these in your home, it’d be easy to mistake them for Harman Kardon speakers or an Apple Mini. Which is probably the point. If minimalist modern design is your thing, why should the final resting place of your deceased loved one have to stick out like a sore thumb on the mantel? Or if that sounds too artsy-fartsy, consider this: Losing someone you care about is hard, and the “administrative details” of dealing with the remains is even harder. If there were a funeral product that actually tried to add a bit of respectful aesthetic pleasure to this dour process, would that be so wrong?

“The funeral industry is relatively underserved with respect to design,” says Capsule Urn’s creative director, Joyce Chua. “Having to face a less-than-pleasant experience during the typical customer journey with family at a funeral home, we were inspired to leverage our Industrial Design backgrounds and explore a range of new alternatives in this deeply personal product landscape.”

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I won’t lie: There’s always going to be something vaguely weird about urns, no matter how beautifully designed they are. But it’s great to see a company offering some nontraditional options. At the very least, if someone accidentally knocks one of these bulletproof-looking pods off the shelf by accident, you probably won’t have a cleanup job straight out of a bad sitcom on your hands.

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