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Icon Magazine Rethink – Funeral Directors

Posted by Hamish – 07.10.12

We have been asked to contribute this month's Rethink project for Icon magazine…

In the past, death was a public thing. We brought our dead home. We buried them in crowds. We mourned with our friends and our neighbours. Death was a part of our daily lives. Now, it’s not. Now, death, the great certainty, is an uncertain thing, the unspoken, the whispered about. Now, it lives in the shadows, ignored, inevitable.

Funeral Directors are often family run establishments hidden on the fringes of our commercial centres. In most cases they are in uninviting, office-like spaces, daunting in appearance, and with imagery ridden with cliche and awkwardness. It doesn't need to be like this.

The key question is whether rethinking the location and feel of these businesses brings any potential benefits.

As the average age of our population increases and represents a much larger chunk of design led purchasing than ever before, there is no obvious shift to a more considered and designed presence in the funeral business. There are obvious reasons why the potentially cynical world of branding hasn't permeated this market, but what if it did?

Neuma – a derivative of the greek for Soul – explores this premise. A designed environment based in city centres, that sensitively supports and directs the client through the process.

The identity, whilst being modern, still retains certain qualities that prevents it from being inappropriate or insensitive. The use of black and white and the reserved typography are sympathetic, but also allow the design to be airy and bright.

Interestingly, whilst researching how social media profiles and obituary websites could be utilised by the industry, we noticed a handful of forward thinking funeral directors are already starting to look at this. However the look and feel of these businesses is still tired and old fashioned. All other areas of our life are constantly updated and re-invented – if its done with care and sensitivity there is no reason why death cannot be approached in the same way.