In death, we'll be more than food for worms – our corpses will give sustenance to forests, thanks to a new egg-shaped burial bag concept. With Capsula Mundi, developed by Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, our deceased bodies will be stuffed in fetal position into oval-shaped pods, which are then planted like seeds in the earth. Over time, the biodegradable bags that are made from starch plastic (and their contents within, i.e. us) will decompose and provide nutrients for trees and shrubs planted above. Such 'eco-friendly' burial procedures are currently illegal in Italy but the creators are looking to export their prototype design overseas. Metro spoke with Citelli to learn more about new age burials.
How were these organic burial pods created?
We were selected to take part in a competition for furniture and concept designers. We started wondering about what kind of design object would leave us with a legacy. Starting from this thought, we decided to dedicate our next work to an uncomfortable object: the coffin.
And what is the concept behind this coffin design, the Capsula Mundi ?
Capsula Mundi expresses an idea of continuity and return. Its shape takes the form of an egg because that evokes the idea of life, of rebirth. Inside, the deceased body lies in the fetal position. A tree is planted above it, and so the capsules are like seeds in the soil.
Who picks the tree?
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The tree is chosen by the deceased while they are still alive. With the trees, the deceased remain a physical presence on Earth after their death.
How does the body provide for the tree?
The kind of material the pods are made of – starch plastic – does not impede the natural decomposition of the capsule and allows the organic matter to transform into minerals, integrating the earth with nutrients for vegetative organisms. Seeding capsules will transform cemeteries in forests.
Burial procedures remain traditional, so how do you hope this alternative will catch on?
Death takes on a new meaning: it's no longer considered as an interruption of the process of life but rather as the beginning of a transformation that reintroduces us into the natural cycle. This project is open to all human beings irrespective of their religion or race. For this reason, each individual will be able to choose the ceremony that is most appropriate for their creed.
Capsula Mundi is still in development, but when will it become a reality?
Our hope is that it will become a possibility in every country. There are already some places where 'planting a body' can be done. England was one of the first. Burying this way is also available in Sweden and several U.S. states.