Gallery: COFFIN TABLE: Memento Coffee Table Casket


Worrying that you don’t think about death enough in your day-to-day life? Pratt student Charles Constantine is looking to change this and inject a bit of morbidity into the daily routine, with his new design for a coffee table coffin. On display in the Pratt Institute student design booth at BKLYN Designs, this ‘Coffin Table’ is a typical coffee table which packs a punch when it comes to storage. Not only can it store books and other knick-knacks like personal mementos, but its ultimate goal is to store YOU – or what remains of you – when you pass on to the next life.

Made from an intentional choice of materials, this “pine box” puts design in context of the user at different stages of life, and death. In life, Memento serves the user as a functional piece of furniture that stores the material possessions we choose to collect. When the inevitable occurs, this coffee table takes on a second life as a non-toxic burial vessel.

In a fairly simple form, Memento challenges cultural norms in regard to death, and how we deal with it. As a part of our intimate surroundings, the design absorbs life through use. The passage of time wears into the piece in the inevitable scratches and marks gained in its first life as a living room accessory. It also creates a presence of death, or at least a reminder that an end is necessary and unavoidable.

The design is careful to facilitate a pure, and environmentally friendly, final purpose. The open bottom “promotes growth into the casket, enabling Memento to become part of the environment.” At the same time, Memento puts death into a historical context. Constantine says that the four panels along the top of the vessel are meant to be a “graphic representation of wrapped cloth, reminiscent of Egyptian mummification.”

In addition to the thoughtful presentation of life and death quandaries in one design, Memento is an ecologically friendly choice for burial. As a coffin (and coffee table) the piece is non-toxic, made from natural pine with a natural soap finish. It is the antithesis of most “modern” burial processes that use harsh chemicals and a sterile mindset to lay bodies to rest. Memento will degrade within ten years, depending on environmental variables like temperature, leaving behind little or no environmental impact.

Constantine’s goal in developing the concept was “to promote a more personal way of dealing with death, and help us, as a culture, confront an issue that is universally denied.” With Memento, we think he has succeeded in this, and much more.

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  1. esp33 November 30, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I like the idea of being buried in something that saw a lot of action in my life but What happens when you get married and your wife hates it? Or worse yet she like it. It would be a total dick move to both die and take the coffee table.

  2. Texpundit May 13, 2008 at 11:24 am

    This is definitely not a new concept. I found these guys years ago. I think they also had a piece on Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

  3. ElizabethJane May 13, 2008 at 11:11 am

    While the above comment by Wrangler32 instructs readers to view a design for a Book Shelf that reconstructs into a coffin and makes a point that concept is not completely unique – I have to say these two representations are completely different in every capacity.

    The coffin as a coffee table/storage is actually assembled as it will be used to lay you to rest, along with all the eco-friendly additions, the open style slatted bottom, the required virgin pine to be used only with a soap finish, all allow the consumer to be laid to rest with the utmost respect for nature. There’s no family member pining around, excuse the pun, wondering how the heck to read the plans to disassemble and construct their loved one’s coffin. Additionally – the wrapped effect of the angles on the doors atop the coffin are genuine to this artists idea. He’s placed human emotion into every part of the coffin – and when art invigorates emotion – true beauty emerges.

    I really love this piece, and hope that for those who view death as something to prepare for without fear of the unknown. People have shrouded death with such a veil that even talking about it strikes fear into people – who don’t want to hear of such things. History is ripe with civilizations that embarked lengthy rituals for laying their loved ones to rest. In our modern society we need a return to preparedness, and acceptance. While it does not need to consume the entirety of our lives, we must embrace it fully.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Wrangler32 May 13, 2008 at 9:03 am

    This piece, although nicely crafted and environmentally conscious seems like a direct copy of the idea presented by William Warren’s Coffin Shelving. For ilustrations go to a site called “dark roasted blends” and look in the architecture section under psychadelic furniture.

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