Branding of death at Coeio and LifeGem
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Tanderup, S. (2023). Branding of death at Coeio and LifeGem . Res Mobilis, 12(16), 23–40.


The paper discusses the transformation of death practices throughout history, illustrating its argument via several examples. It explores contemporary death practices through two cases of marginal American design companies Coeio and LifeGem as brands that produce and sell suits to be buried in and diamonds made from human ashes. Throughout its theoretical approach, the paper applies anthropologist Grant McCracken’s theory of brands as creators of meaning and transfers to consumers. The paper also applies theory from the French historian Philippe Ariès' first major publication about death. This paper also draws on ‘Symbolic Exchange and Death’, written by the French sociologist, culture theorist, and critic, Jean Baudrillard. The hypothesis of the article is that the choice of burial dress and either as an individual, a family, or a firm holds further potential for making the transition from death to funeral more meaningful in contributing to the narratives of a person’s life. It requires the transference of symbolic meaning to a material object, mainly the final outfit and the jewels created as souvenirs for relatives. Here, it is important that the design not only reflects an idealized life but also a life that can be messy. The objects are transient but hold lasting symbolic meaning as a visual biography for the loved ones to share. This study puts forth that the grave is not truly the final resting place of the body but merely a temporary stop-over in an ongoing process of transition.
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