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‘THE END’: How to design for a client who is no longer alive?

Noam Sol and Ram Shalom, graduates of the Industrial Design Department at HIT, won the "Aley Shalechet" Funeral Home competition. The winning design: a unique funeral urn which celebrates the life and times of the deceased.

The winning design by Noam Sol and Ram Shalom
The winning design by Noam Sol and Ram Shalom

Within the framework of “THE END’, a joint conference held earlier this year at HIT with "Aley Shalechet" Funeral Home, a nationwide student design competition was organized with the challenge of creating a unique funeral urn which best expressed the ‘design experience after death.” The ‘open call, in which 16 students participated from design schools around the country, put emphasis on the design of an urn which not only represents the deceased but uses environmentally friendly materials and is reasonably priced for production.

The Award panel selected the work of Ram Shalom and Noam Sol, graduates of HIT’s Industrial Design Department at HIT. They created a funeral urn that featured a light fixture and paid respectful tribute to the dead.

The joint conference at HIT was the culmination of a special course led by Faculty of Design lecturer Galina Arbely, which dealt with the designer's role and work in accepting death or parting with life.

"The challenge here was to take the classic vessel, which is usually made of ceramic or iron, and turn it into something more ceremonial which speaks of the ‘beyond’, says Ram Shalom, a HIT alum who now works as a designer and technical planner at the Israeli startup Neurolief. One of the biggest challenges in this project was understanding how to generate empathy in a product that, by its very nature, lacks it. More challenging is the fact that, unlike other projects, we need to take the client’s wishes into account, although he/she is no longer with us.”

Noam Sol, also a graduate of the Industrial Design department and currently freelancing in the product design, fashion, furniture, and event fields, remarked that if we had asked her at the beginning of her studies about designing a funeral urn, it would be unlikely to be high on her list of professional aspirations. "I didn't think I would be involved in something like this, but one of the things I've learned over the years at HIT’s Faculty of Design is that ultimately, anything is ‘game, and we must be prepared to design any and all products, no matter how remote the possibility might be.”

Industrial design studies at HIT-Holon Institute of Technology nurture designers and encourage them to apply their innate talents to intelligent expression, mental flexibility, and practicality – all of which will make it easier for them to integrate into the professional design world.

The ceremony announcing the winners of the Aley Shalechet competition was attended by Galina Arbely and Ofri Lifshitz - Senior Lecturers in the Faculty of Design at HIT, Ayelet Nativ and Alon Nativ - owners of "Aley Shalechet" Funeral Home, and Noam Lifshitz-Tillinger, Director of Communities of Aley Shalechet.

Posted: 20/09/2023