words and images Studio Makgill
In the past, death was a public thing. We brought our dead home. We buried them in crowds. We mourned with our friends and our neighbours. Death was once a part of our daily lives. Now it’s not. Now death, the great certainty, is an uncertain thing, the unspoken, the whispered about. Now, it lives in the shadows, ignored, inevitable.
Funeral directors are often family-run establishments hidden on the fringes of our commercial centres. In most cases they are in uninviting, office-like spaces, daunting in appearance and with imagery ridden with cliche and awkwardness. It doesn’t need to be like this.
And yet, as the average age of our population increases and the elderly account for a larger chunk of design-led purchasing than ever before, there is no obvious shift to a more considered and designed presence in the funeral business. There are obvious reasons why the potentially cynical world of branding hasn’t permeated this market, but what if it did?
Neuma – a derivative of the Greek for soul – explores this premise. The idea is to create a designed environment, based in city centres, that sensitively supports and directs the client through the funereal process. The identity, while being modern, retains certain qualities that prevent it from seeming inappropriate or insensitive. The use of black and white and the reserved typography are sympathetic, but at the same time it allows the design to be airy and bright.
Interestingly, while researching how social media profiles and obituary websites could be used by the industry, we noticed that a handful of forward-thinking funeral directors are already starting to explore this. However, the look and feel of these businesses is still tired and old-fashioned. All other areas of our life are constantly updated and re-invented – if it’s done with care and sensitivity there is no reason why death cannot be approached in the same way.