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Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Chris Campbell

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Rest In Peace, As a Tree

Urna Bios gives the idea of ‘putting down roots’ a whole different meaning. This company constructs urns made of coconut shell, peat, and cellulose. They contain a person’s cremated remains, and a seed. The phosphorous-rich ashes serve as nutrients, and life springs forth! I was lucky enough to chat with Roger Moliné cofounder of the company making the urn.

primera 0112All images by Estudiomoline unless noted otherwise.

CC: When I heard about your goal with the Bios Urn, to transform cemeteries into forests, my imagination launched into daydream. A static gray dream. Mist, fog, and then presto! Everything flushed with foliage, intense green, dancing leaves. Why is it important for humans to reflect on the reality that nature’s show will rage on long after we’re gone?

RM: Remembering our loved ones once they’ve passed away is something that has been ever present in most human cultures. Egyptians buried their pharaohs in pyramids; our society uses cemeteries. But nature transforms this kind of ‘human need’ into a simple process, replacing the tombstone with a piece of life. I think this is what attracts us. The fact that something with life continues in some form of natural process. Life, after life.

Estudiomoline mosaic installation. The seeds are small containers of intelligence; they explode into green shininess, and follow their course naturally, returning to the earth.

CC: You are a cofounder of the company. What type of role do you play within the organization? What is a day in your shoes like?

RM: I’m working as a product manager focusing on product/experience design and also communication. Day to day I do a lot of mailing, meetings with contributors and team members. I also take care of communication, trying to be in touch with people through our blog, facebook, etc. But, me and Gerard Moliné, designer of Bios Urn and cofounder of the company, always take time to reflect on what comes next, to imagine what we can do now.

CC: What lasting memories do you have from prototyping era?

RM: Bios Urn’s development process was very long. The concept and product design were presented several years ago. a significant amount of time passed before we decided to take it one step further. We focused on, and are still zeroing in on, the experience around Bios Urn.

Sometimes we feel like we are designing a ritual, a process, something more than a product. In that creative work you feel like your imagination is playing. Suddenly great ideas flourish.

484179465_7579d213ac_bMaypole dance ritual. Rituals mean balance in repetition. First image by Marcie Dawn. Second image by Bury Gardener.

CC: What kind of a kid were you? How wild was your imagination? And can you trace your enamorment with innovation to a particular moment in time?

RM: I don’t have a clear image of my childhood, and I don’t know if I was, or am, a wild thinker. Or even if I’m a thinker in general. I was born in a town from north Catalonia, and soon I moved to Barcelona. I feel like the mix of city and town, building and mountains, parks and landscapes has been very positive. I was with the best of each and I try to apply what I’ve learnt to all the things I do.

CC: How do you define magic?

RM: I’m not sure I believe in magic. I prefer to say intelligence or even creativity. And I define creativity as the ability of those who observe and interpret things that are happening in a different way than others do.

CC: What is the scariest thing you can think of?

RM: A prison.

3471151686_ed86be562f_oPanopticon prison as devised by Jeremy Bentham. A watchtower is strategically built in the middle so prisoners know that at any given moment, someone could be watching. Images by Foto Martien.

CC: It’s cool to see Estudimoline engaging the public on deeper levels, and not pouring every ounce of energy into marketing. You guys do some very thoughtful installation work. Can you give a brief description of the Naturalment project? And why is it important to be multifaceted, to be creative, and not just focus on financial health?

RM: For us financial power is not a goal; it’s just a resource to achieve what truly matters. When we decided to start selling the Bios Urn we did it because we were tired of seeing news, posts and articles about ‘cool gadgets’. We were curious to see if people were, or were not, interested in our kind of thought, in the Bios Urn.

In fact, most of our work doesn’t have a financial goal behind. Naturalment, which is the core of Estudimoline and Urna Bios is an art work that explores nature from our point of view. Textures, materials and processes that happen in nature, rivers, forests and wild places. When explored, these places give way to understanding more deeply how nature applies its logic.

Project by Estudiomoline. Turn to nature to relax and forget about everyday stress that the City produces; a person has the opportunity to live in the nature of a playful and experimental form.

CC: In America, and I’m not sure about in the rest of the world, Greenwashing, or giving a ‘green sheen’ is becoming a problem. As defined by Wikipedia:

‘Greenwashing is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims and/or policies are environmentally friendly. Evidence that an organization is greenwashing often comes from pointing out the spending differences: when significantly more money or time has been spent advertising being “green” than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices.

What advice do you have for individuals to decipher which organizations are playing a beneficial role in keeping Earth healthy, and who is using the wave of green-consciousness to make money? And to what extent is greenwashing occuring in Spain?

RM: I think ‘greenwashing’ is something happening everywhere. Where there’s an opportunity to increase incomes most companies decide to make profit off of it, it’s called capitalism I think. I don’t believe in that model, life is really boring if your objective is just money. There are more interesting aspects inside a company worth working for.

 Mercedes greenwashing. Photo by Celine.

CC: What’s next for the firm? What scintillating prospects are on the horizon? Do you have any cool prototypes you can hint at here?

RM: I don’t know what’s going to be next. There are a lot of things to present but we are not sure which will go first. But, you can be sure that we will continue to be in motion. Movement is life. (Check out some of Estudiomoline’s ideas here!)

CC: What do you envision the world will be like in 2060?

RM: Round.

Image by NASA. Hubble Deep Space. 

CC: While we are looking into the future, to steal one from the great James Lipton, if heaven exists what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

RM: “Go back to where you came!”

Rest In Peace, As a Tree

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About the Author

I live on an island floating in the Puget Sound, a stone's throw from downtown Seattle. I am keenly interested in nature, mysticism, the cosmos, futurism, existentialism, nihilism, kitsch, satire, and miscellaneous whimsy.



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