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Seashell, Bird and Stone: What Was Once and is No More


Hadar Mitz

Design and Technology track

Mentor — 

Itay Laniado

How to help someone coping with bereavement? An interpretive design for the stages of grief

Three objects create a nature morte scene or a memento mori essence to them. These artifacts, one black and two white are reanimated via technology and act as a crucial stage in the grieving process.

The first object is in the form of a seashell and acts as a transitional piece; it retains the deceased’s heartbeat. The grieving viewer is invited to take hold of the seashell and place it close to their own hearts. Alternatively they could also lend an ear and pay attention to the recurring rhythm. The peaceful seashell enables the grieving individual to transition from a dependence state to independence. 

The second object is a weeping black stone that sheds tears when detecting the presence of the mourner, until they move away. It has the mechanics of an hourglass containing the dripping tears, while the griever processes their pain and emotions. 

The last and final object is a stuffed, white bird that giggles with the same voice of the deceased every time the mourner laughs. This stage of the grieving process is crucial; together with humor and laughter, the bird marks acceptance and emerges through the sorrow with renewed energy.  

Creating the series of these three objects emerged from my interest in psychology with the focus on grief and separation. Inspired by Freud’s “grief work”, Winnicott’s “transitional object”, and Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief. Additionally, after conducting several interviews with individuals who experienced the loss of a loved one, I found that the presence of the deceased remains within us. Majority of the mourners cope with their grief with digital tools, such as reading through old messages, emails, and listening to recordings in order to maintain a sense of continuity. This led me to think about the real need for mnemonic mechanisms as an alternative to the traditional tombstones and cemeteries. Thus, the interactive objects I’ve designed enter the grievers life to provide comfort and acceptance.

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Hadar Mitz

Hadar Mitz (b.1989) is a multidisciplinary artist and an art teacher. holds a B.F.A in Art and Education with high honors in Fine Arts from HaMidrasha (2014) and M.des in Industrial Design from  Bezalel Academy. Specializing in photography, video and installation.

 Mitz was awarded the America-Israel Foundation grant (2014) and Rabinovich Foundation grant (2018 & 2021).

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