interview with artist
Eco-Responsible Furniture: This Bookshelf Can Be Reassembled Into A Coffin After The Owner's Death (Interview With Artist)
Designer William Warren created a set of bookshelves that will last you a lifetime: they can be reassembled as a coffin.
Eco-Responsible Furniture: This Bookshelf Can Be Reassembled Into A Coffin After The Owner's Death (Interview With Artist)
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When we have a quiet moment to ourselves, we sometimes think about the world we’ll leave behind after we’re gone. Will the world be a better or worse place when you’re no longer in it? That’s one of the questions that drives people to consider the impact they have on the environment.

Designer William Warren created a set of bookshelves that will last you a lifetime: they can be reassembled as a coffin. In other words, the ‘Shelves for Life’ is a piece of furniture that will follow you on your final journey.

“The wood will color, the surfaces will mark and stain, and over the years and the furniture will become a part of you,” Warren writes. “When you die, the shelves can be taken apart and reassembled as a coffin. The brass plate under the bottom shelf, that tells the story about this transformation, is then flipped over and your dates inscribed on it.”

Scroll down for Bored Panda's interview with Warren.

According to Warren, people, in general, were at first surprised and then amused by his design. "It's not everyone who sees the charm but some do. People are very pleased when they realize the designs can be downloaded for free."

The designer admitted that there have been critics who did not enjoy his work: "I offered the design to a Japanese company when I first made it but they really didn't like the reminder of death. Since then, some squeal and some smile."

Warren revealed to Bored Panda that he's still busy working away as a designer. Among his recent projects, he designed all the furniture and interiors in a new children's hospital in Edinburgh and new gates for Kew Gardens in London. "I'm also teaching design at several universities and developing other music and video projects."

The designer added that "we are all going to die" at some point and there's no need to ignore it or try to forget it. "If you don't think about it in advance, you'll be buried or burnt in a chipboard box with paper that looks like wood and plastic handles that look like brass. Your grieving family will pay £400 for this £40 piece of rubbish because nobody argues with an undertaker. Better to have something you've made, something solid and something that has lived with you in life and has the stains and scars to prove it."

The eco-friendly shelves were first launched during the 2005 London Design Festival at the British Library and have made waves on the internet ever since.

Warren runs a furniture and product design consultancy, is a Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University, and also lectures at three other universities and colleges. His design philosophy is all about creating emotional experiences, making us think about our belongings, and his designs often feature humorous conceptual twists.

The designer has his very own set of ‘Shelves for Life’ and will send you a free personal design if you send him your measurements. According to Warren, these bookshelves will “store all your knowledge and prized possessions.”

He added that “it will be a visible part of your life and will get coffee stains and burns on it. So it will mean more when you use it as shelves and it will mean more when you are buried in it.”

Warren told the Financial Times that coffins are some of the most expensive pieces of furniture that people will ever buy while having the worst quality. “I’m happy for as many people to have mine as possible,” he said.

What do you think of Warren’s shelves, dear Pandas? Share your thoughts with everyone in the comment section.

Comments (58)
Carrot dude
I would rather not look at my coffin every day...
Dorothy Parker
I was surprised the designer is British. It seems more like a Scandinavian concept to me. And a brilliant one at that.
Aunt Messy
Well....that's fucked up. No I don't want to spend my life looking at my coffin, thanks.
Dash Blue
After the funeral the coffin can be dismantled, and reassembled back into a bookcase.
Kel Gal
Is this a Murphy bed in Dracula’s house?
I used an urn as a cookie box, so....
If you are intrigued by this idea, you should check out Caitlin Doughty's books & YouTube channel. I especially enjoyed her first book ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory")
K. aka letmeplaywithkittens
Is it morbid of me to want one? I
Yeah but would it be allowed in a crematorium? Seeing as it is wood and just gets burned you would imagine so but they didn't allow my dads body to be cremated wearing his favourite tie (along with a suit I might add) cause of what it was made out of!
Adrian Smythe
I have so many questions... - Do you have to build it yourself before you die? Or do you have to nominate one of your kids, who you think is the best at assembling flat-pack furniture? - Will there be a cheap, particle-board version available from IKEA one day? - Will this eventually be a freebie from your funeral cover provider (instead of a Parker pen... because who writes that much anymore?)? - Will there be a choice of woods (because I'm allergic to Oak wood)? - Will there be a recycled composite version one day? - When will the plans be available for those who want to 3D print one at home? - When will the first YouTube or TikTok reviews and "how to" videos be available? Ohhh... It's just too exciting for words !!! hahahahahahaha
This is way too disturbing ...
Oskar vanZandt
I don't mind the concept but in case of cremations, a cardboard box will do...
Paul Aasajärv
In the age of cremation and e-readers, this seems like a rather pointless line of thinking
Lily Mae Kitty
it's ugly and sort of useless for many no.
Genevieve Luttrell
I love it
Pretty clever! We are all going to die so embrace rather than fear. Makes life much more vibrant and exciting.
Fiona Matthews
What a morbid reminder of your impending death to select a book from?!
Talk about poor timing! It's rather morbid even if we weren't in a pandemic...
This could just have a vote box underneath. "Wow, great concept" or "Huck no never ever thank you very much".
Not amusing all, creepy weird and stupid yes!
David Jeu
Just throw me in a ditch thx.
I like it. Unfortunately, I'm planning on cremation and scattering, so...
Jim Price
I like the design and fully intend to get one when I need even one more bookshelf, just because it is genius in design and function. And that's saying something because I have already decided to donate my body to science when I'm finished with it. Goodness knows the important parts will be elsewhere doing other things, and I see no reason to take up space when I could be feeding the plants that fed me for most of my life.
Kevin Brennan
and how much =cost
Sandra Simpson
Well this is gruesome.
Trent Condellone
Clarry Petterson, of the New Zealand Do-It-Yourself Casket Company, did this back in the 80s. Oddly enough, I was cleaning out a file and found an old Rolodex card I made for his contact info the other night. As I recall, he said they make good hope chests and whatnot.
I like knowing that I would be saving a lot of expense for my end of life.
Berney Cris
If you have to see your own coffin, you will have to repent and be nearer to God
Cécile Voltolin
Kelly C
I love it!! Its kind of like taking a whisper of my life and love with me. To me, it's very intimate and comforting.
David Muench
"...over here is my sectional, my end table, OH! And this is where my dead body will be..."
Meyer Weinstock
Can I get one here in the US?
Debbie Archimedes
Well that’s just stupid.
Deana Rice
I laughed and thought of all the books on my non coffin case, hilarious to me!
Michelle Klein-Hass
Vampires are going to love this...
The Emerald Triangle
Honestly after this damn virus....I get it. Wouldn't buy it but get it.
Lester Freake
If only we had those in Guayaquil, instead of burying the dead in cardboard boxes people could have used these. Aren't they preparing you for something, kind of acquainting you with death?
charlotte berger
I kind of like it, actually.
Paolina Mitova
Oh, no no no no no! Not at all! How sick someone's mind should be to create this!?!
Of all things to recycle or reuse you make one that's a con stand reminder that you will die?
Why should I look at my coffin while watching TV?
Sana Arnot
Too morbid...I cannot see this trend catching on.
I like the idea.
Kerri Russ
I love that! It's a practical piece of furniture with a cool design then your family has the task of breaking it down to bury you. Brilliant...?
Astrid Nineor
How wonderfully morbid. I want one!
Ekaterina Sidyakova
@carrot dude completely agree! What the hell, especially in these times! No coffins please
Emily Barnes
I think that's pretty cool
Alex Stewart
Boredpandas Who came up with these, and who makes them? Could it be the commie Chinese? They make everyfhing else...badly but they make it. These questions are for this article writers because if they wrote about it they must know...
Vedette Aecus
Need to offer as a kit on for those of us who don't own power tools. And if they could make it from heavy-duty cardboard for those of us who plan to be cremated, that would be an extra bonus.
Great idea but this coffin would only fit a thin man. Women have hips, not broad shoulders.
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