As anybody who’s lost a friend or loved one can attest, it’s hard to put a positive spin on death. One minute they’re in your life; next minute they’re conspicuously, painfully, unequivocally absent. But what if their passing didn’t spell the end of everything? What if it simply meant they’d simply departed the human phase of their life and entered what might be considered their tree-incarnation?
If 'tree-incarnation' hasn't made you close your browser in an anti-New Age funk, we have three words for you: organic burial pods.
As far out as they sound, these egg-shaped things are about as down to earth as it gets. Once the deceased is placed inside (curled into the foetal position), the pod is closed and buried beneath a tree seed or sapling. As its biodegradable shell breaks down, the person’s mineralised remains enter the soil and provide nutrients for the growing tree. Your loved one lives again.
This is the premise of Capsula Mundi, conceived by two Italian designers, Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, as a more holistic and sustainable alternative to the traditional coffin-burial approach to death. Giving renewed meaning to the phrase ‘dust to dust’, the Capsula reminds us that “the biological life cycle and its transformations are the same for every living being… that we are a part of Nature’s cycle of transformation.” In a nutshell: we come from the earth, and to the earth we return.
Because who wants to moulder in a coffin in some bleak cemetery? The Capsula Mundi crew envision lush memorial forests replacing graveyards – leafy green havens where family and friends can gather, tending to and finding comfort in their departed loved one’s tree-incarnation.
And with millions of trees chopped down every year to make conventional coffins, the capsula’s environmental benefits are pretty irresistible. Think of it as your parting gift to the planet.
The Capsula Mundi isn’t available yet. But while its creators continue to finetune their revolutionary (and strangely beautiful, in a way) product, they’ve released a smaller, urn-sized version to hold cremated ashes, which works in the same way.