Amanda Österlin La Mont, Louise Knoppert, Christian Frank Müller
Design Academy Eindhoven
We feel this concept is a poetic and beautiful solution to a sensitive situation.
Animal coffin is a biodegradable coffin made from recycled waste materials with flower- and tree seeds embedded. A tree will grow where the beloved animal is buried, thus providing a long-lasting memorial. By giving waste material a second life Animal Coffin both provides an alternative for waste handling, conserves new resources and provides the opportunity to bid farewell of a beloved pet. Animal Coffin is made from the materials coffee grounds, potato starch, flour, human hair and cardboard. This concept accords perfectly with the words of Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier (1743‐1794): “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The brief was to work with waste as a commodity and investigate how waste could be used as a resource for a new material or product. The process should start by analysing how and where waste is produced in our society today, collecting and categorizing waste materials based on properties and making experiments. The context was the Dutch society where the project was executed.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We entered the project with a very open mind and wanted the process and experiments to determine our project. We forced ourselves to not think about a product or situation of usage until the material was finished. This kept us open-minded and helped us seeing all opportunities along side the way. During the experiments we decided to work with biodegradable waste materials to minimize the risk of producing a new material mix that is hard to recycle or reuse. Instead we decided to focus on “closing the loop” and let the new product become a step towards new resources.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
The project started with a profound analysis of different processes where waste is produced in the society. By looking at industries operating in different stages of the production process, we saw that waste is produced in all stages. A lot of waste is produced already when the material is extracted and processed in the first steps in a production line. In this stage waste material can often be found in large amounts that can be reused without a lot of sorting. After the first analysis we started collecting different kinds of waste material and categorized them based on their properties. We grouped the waste materials in the categories: glue, filler, construction, surface and colour. After collecting and categorizing the waste materials we made experiments by combining one waste material from each group. We combined the waste materials by using different mixing methods such as heating, melting, cooking, pressing, blending etc. The experiments where divided in tree stages where we, after each stage, made an evaluation to select the most interesting waste materials to keep for further experimentation. We decided to only use biodegradable waste materials and to combine five waste materials that could easily be selected within a local area. When the selection of the final waste materials was made we started defining the final recipe and the exact amount to use of each waste material. When the new material mixture was defined we started looking at suitable situations where the new material could be used. We saw that the new material, with its biodegradable, easy to shape and stiffness properties, would be most suitable for products that are used a short amount of time such as packaging, gardening products etc. We saw the opportunity to insert seeds in the material and use it in a situation where the material transforms into new resources, such as burials. Due to size, stiffness and shape we decided to work with animal burials, but thought about extending the concepts to humans in the future. We defined a shape and built a scale model of the coffin. Currently we are in the process of redefining the shape, details and size to produce a test mould. We are also working with developing an urn to allow bigger animals to be cremated and buried with the same ceremony. We plan to produce the coffin and urn in local, small-scale social workshops.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Animal Coffin is an example of cyclic thinking in a production process. Increasing amounts of waste is a big problem in many societies today. By giving waste material a second life in the shape of a coffin, and then transforming the coffin into new recourses, this concept provides an alternative for incineration or landfill. By burying a pet with Animal Coffin the user contributes to a cleaner society, and at the same gives an animal a dignifying end to its life. The project thus offer and ecologically viable option for the increasingly demanded pet funeral. The animal and coffin alike provide effective nutrition for the young growing tree. This is an emotionally compelling idea, which can alleviate the sense of loss. The Animal Coffin system also has a social value since it contributes to education and increased knowledge about ecology and production processes, as well as job opportunities in small scale social workshops.