Buried Treasure
Wallpaper|August 2017

Sustainable sarcophagus, by Tom Dixon and Paper factor.

Ali Morris

Death is the terrifying ‘elephant in the room’ for many cultures, a topic that no one wants to talk about, let alone design products for. Our obsession with youth has led to an oversupply of objects designed for the early stages of life, yet there is very little in the way of elegant products for its end.

It’s a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by one designer in particular, who when asked to consider the spiritual passage for Wallpaper* Handmade, seized upon the chance to broach that taboo. ‘It’s something I’ve been trying to do for quite a long time,’ says trailblazing British designer Tom Dixon of his sustainable sarcophagus. ‘I’ve been thinking about the idea since I was at Habitat (where Dixon served as creative director from 1998 to 2008). So you could say that Wallpaper* has made my dreams come true.’

With its streamlined form, Dixon’s lightweight paper coffin is an elegant overhaul of an outdated design. ‘I bought a coffin to look at the construction, and I put it in the staff room,’ remembers Dixon of the early stages of the project. ‘Everybody in the office freaked out, which is really a reflection of the symbolic grip that coffins have on the popular imagination.

‘Death is weirdly ignored, until it happens,’ he continues. ‘And when it happens, the rituals and the artifacts around it are from another era, and have all kinds of awful connotations. Even the shape of a coffin and the way it’s constructed reeks of horror movies, Victoriana and Gothic and the rest of it. Nothing’s really progressed – there are wicker coffins, and the cardboard ones for eco-warriors – but you don’t get anything that reflects the personality of the person whom you’re celebrating.’

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine