Designer Nienke Hoogvliet gives a new meaning to “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

A few years ago, images and video from the ancient Sky Burial practice made the rounds on several prominent websites. The gruesome nature of the Tibetan ritual horrified some yet it also captivated many others. It not only put the relationship between man and nature in a different light by removing any extraneous elements to present the cycle of decay and nature’s reclamation of the human body in all its gory glory, but, more importantly, it challenged Western societies to face their own taboos regarding death.

Following on the same footsteps of strengthening the connection between man and the natural world, the Mourn urn provides a slightly more palatable solution to eliminate the barriers between the body and the earth it shortly inhabits after death. Created by Dutch designer and researcher Nienke Hoogvliet, the urn explores the concept of ecological burial with the specific ‘needs’ of the soil in mind for optimal integration. Nature lies at heart of the design which also redefines the classic urn and reimagines it not as a vessel, but as a completely organic object.

Every urn features a blend of cremation ashes along with a type of bio-plastic which is reclaimed from waste water and can be consumed by certain small organisms. Using one of three types of soil – over-fertilized, rich, or poor – the designer can make the urns as localized as possible and thus ensure that they disintegrate into a specific plot of land at a natural pace. It goes without saying that Mourn minimizes impact on the local flora and fauna, while also preventing groundwater and soil pollution. Unlike other biodegradable urns, this one’s designed with the burial site in mind. Literally made of earth, it provides the most natural vessel for the remains of loved ones. It gives the body back to nature in a simple and beautiful way. Instead of the birds of prey of the Sky Burial, the body is reclaimed by the earth in a process that is just as natural and maybe easier to bear.

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