Meet the design graduate who created her own coffin

Confronted with the mortality of not only her body but the world, Shaina Garfield found healing in the subject of death.
Posted 26 Nov 18 By Design Indaba Duration: 00:08:58 Design ActivismProduct Design Creative Work / Next Generation Comments

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We’re watching the world burn. It’s a startling thought, but climate change is a part of life we’ve come to live with. The fragility of the Earth and our impact on its dwindling resources became a focal point for design graduate Shaina Garfield when she was confronted with her own mortality.

Garfield was diagnosed with Lyme disease, an infectious disease that is debilitating and incurable. Its symptoms are exacerbated by climate change.

But despite the way the world around her worsened her disability, Garfield still found comfort in nature. Instead of focusing on her own mortality and the effects of climate change, Garfield decided to embrace death and nature simultaneously.

The coffin she created for herself is a physical representation of not only accepting the ritual of death, but it also takes humans back to nature as a species.

Speaking at antenna during Dutch Design Week this past October, Garfield notes that we’ve become so far removed from nature as a result of human exceptionalism – the belief that humans are the most important entities in the universe.

Her coffin, called Leaves, is a way to take us back and begin a conversation around death that we’re often too afraid to have.