Designer Ony Yan has created a two-part system that can be installed in single-person households to notify neighbors in the event of their death, and is designed to “encourage a community to look after each other”.
In Memoriam, a functional prototype system that can be installed in homes, consists of a battery-powered odor detector and a signal lamp connected by a wireless connection.
Subtle in shape and color, the white odor detector can be discretely fixed to a wall and responds to the sulfur compounds released when a human body decays after death.
The black signal lamp – which is placed at the entrance of the house – then receives this information wirelessly from the detector. A built-in servo motor tilts the top of the lamp 45 degrees, revealing a glowing light informed by candles designed to attract the attention of neighbors and passers-by.
“The odor detector hangs at eye level – or breathing height – because my chosen volatile organic compounds as indicators of decay, in this case, sulfur compounds, are heavier than the ambient air,” explains Ony.
“This is similarly comparable to the installation of carbon monoxide detectors, which are often placed at the same height.”
Ony created the project as part of her bachelor’s thesis while studying Industrial Design at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences.
The designer told Dezeen that she created the project after a “tragic case” in her neighborhood, where someone died and their body was only discovered much later when it began to decay.
“I became aware of similar deaths in Berlin and realized through research and interviews that this is an increasingly global phenomenon,” said Ony.
“The deceased are often discovered by family members without any mental preparation and this is a very traumatic experience. Rotten corpses also require extensive core examinations. [to homes] and can leave spaces unoccupied for a long time.”
Ony explained that he chose polystyrene for the odor detector’s casing for its electrical insulation, while the metal-clad copper covering the signal lamp oxidizes over time and takes on a similar color and texture to the skin of a corpse.
According to the designer, this aims to remind members of the community that the lamp needs polishing – to reinforce its message of caring for your neighbors, and to further encourage people to interact with each other in urban areas.
“In Memoriam translates as ‘to remember someone’. At the moment when the signal lamp burns, the light not only serves as a signal for the house’s community, but also symbolically remembers the deceased,” reflected Ony.
“The tilting mechanism of the lamp and the slow rise of the cone of light should also symbolize the lighting of a censer. I found the name suitable because I not only want to commemorate the deceased, but also encourage a community to look after each one to see. others.”
Other death-related designs include a biodegradable urn by Claesson Koivisto Rune and a “living coffin” created from mushroom mycelium.
The images and video are courtesy of Ony Yan.