Lien Foundation and Ang Chin Moh Foundation collaborated with the Design Innovation team at DesignZ, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) to innovate and overcome the taboo of having conversations about mortality.
The HappyUrns design competition, “Reinterpreting The Urn: A Symbol of Celebration” invited participants of all ages and backgrounds to submit a concept of a reinterpreted urn that reflects their culture, history and relationships.
The full set of winning entries can be found here.
The HappyUrns team collaborated with an esteemed jury panel who offered their time, dedication, and support to this meaningful project. The jury panel consisted of Dr. Kristin L. Wood, Senior Associate Dean for Innovation and Engagement at University of Colorado (Denver) and Director of Design Innovation, SUTD; Dir. Daniel Griner, Director of Design, Innovation and Strategy at University of Colorado (Denver); Dr. Dan Jensen, Founding professor of the Westmont College of Engineering Program and Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado (Denver); Mr. Andrew Pang, Founder of Lavaworks and Live.Love.Life, and member of the Presidential Advisory Commission, Design Business Chamber; Ms. Agnes Kwek, Founder and CEO of TheMindSystem and editorial member of the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society; Professor Tai Lee Siang, Head of the Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) Pillar, SUTD, and Director of DesignZ, SUTD; and the jury representatives of our commissioning partners.
A special thank you to our jury representatives of our commissioning partners for their endless support and encouragement; Mr. Lee Poh Wah, CEO of Lien Foundation; and Mr. Ang Ziqian, Founder of Ang Chin Moh Foundation.
Feature of winning designs of the HappyUrns design competition
The honor of placing first in the general public category was awarded to “Reincarnation” by Loo Zi Ling. “Reincarnation” introduces an artefact of remembrance and service for grieving mothers who have experienced stillbirths or neonatal loss. The concept centers around the repurposing of breastmilk using preservation technology as both keepsake and a manner of processing the heavy emotions amidst grief through acts of kindness. The entry was selected for its daring yet tender and innovatively humane way of addressing an incredibly painful topic that tends to be avoided.
In the student category, the honor of placing first was awarded to “Memories X Glass” by Wendy Pun Xiang Yun. “Memories X Glass” introduces a unique way of commemorating a loved one while reinforcing the notion of fragility of life using stained glass. The concept proposes using ashes to create beautiful stained-glass pieces that can be placed in outdoor areas such as parks where sunlight will shine through them, casting beautiful patterns onto the ground that all can enjoy. The use of glass is also a key element that reminds people of the fragile nature of life and encourages all to think before we act.
– Dr. Kristin L. Wood, Senior Associate Dean for Innovation and Engagement at University of Colorado (Denver) and Director of Design Innovation
– Mr. Andrew Pang, Jury member of the HappyUrns competition, Founder of Lavaworks
– Mr. Lee Poh Wah, Jury member of the HappyUrns design competition, CEO of Lien Foundation
– Mr. Ang Ziqian, Founder of Ang Chin Moh Foundation
The HappyUrns design competition was conceived to further understand how different people of different backgrounds and influences might tackle the challenge of reinterpreting the urn – a typical symbol of death – into one that represents celebration and appreciation of life amidst the struggle from loss. The HappyUrns design competition was also an opportunity for the public to become more acutely aware of the importance of addressing topics of mortality within their own circles through the act of designing their own concepts of how they would like to be remembered or how they would want to remember a loved one. Read more.
Highlights of Winning Entries
All winning entries were awarded their respective rankings for displaying the three qualities as defined by the judging criteria – Novelty, Impact, and Emotional Appeal. Selected entries which demonstrated each of these three qualities are:
A. Novelty: The design concept introduces a new way of remembering a loved one even after death.
“Sanctum” by Bobby Low – 2nd place, general public category
“Sanctum” is a new take on the urn that highlights the different chapters of grief from the loss of a loved one. The beautifully designed urn that is meant to be placed in the home is made up of an ash and cement top and base that conceals a contraption within. As the beeswax at its core melts, ash-casted spheres embedded within the candle fall at 7-day intervals and hit against the crystal glass, signifying each cycle of grief passed. The gentle glow seeping through the slit of the cement top, along with the periodic belling, creates a ritualistic setting to guide those in mourning through their grief.
B. Impact: The design concept addresses and sparks conversations about important aspects of life and death in the community.
“Reincarnation” by Loo Zi Ling – 1st place, general public category
“Reincarnation” is a bold approach to create awareness and conversations about a sensitive and complicated grief. The concept proposes a manner of preserving a mother’s breastmilk upon the loss of a stillborn or newborn, accompanied by a service to enable the mother in grief to carry out an act of kindness by donating her breastmilk to another child and mother in need. The design concept takes on the challenge of addressing a topic that is often avoided and encourages those in grief to be comforted through the spread of kindness and love.
C. Emotional Appeal: The design concept creates opportunity for people to process emotions and attitudes related to end-of-life e.g. joy, grief, regret.
“Soul Lives Forever” by Tharayil Sachid Nitika – 2nd place, student category
“Soul Lives Forever” introduces an elegant approach to recreate a loved one’s presence amongst the living. The urn design is a combination of a planter and a wind chime that can be hung up. The wind chime creates spontaneous tintinnabulations that give those amidst grieving a sense that the soul of a departed loved one is amongst them while the growing plant represents afterlife. This reinterpreted urn considers those who desire connection with their loved ones even after passing and creates an opportunity for them to feel joy and comfort in knowing that the life of their loved one continues to impress its presence onto the physical world.
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