Recompose

Identity, Physical, Digital, Environmental

Overview

Outcomes

Details

Summary

Current funerary practices are environmentally harmful and, for some, psychologically unsatisfying. Recompose gently converts human remains into soil creating nearly a cubic yard of soil per person. For every person who chooses Recompose over conventional burial or cremation, one metric ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere, it is truly revolutionizing the death care industry.

We began working with Recompose in the midst of the build-out of their new facility in Washington State, designed by renowned architecture firm Olson Kundig. The facility is the first of its kind in the world. We began by designing an expandable identity system that would grow with the evolving needs of Recompose, including stationery, building signage, and social media assets. In tandem we began to design and develop the new Recompose website to tell the full story, provide ways for the community to get involved in advocating for the mission, and to allow those at-need or interested in pre-arrangement to sign up and pay for Recompose services.

Background

Recompose is a company founded by Katrina Spade to offer “natural organic reduction” to the public. Natural organic reduction is a process which gently converts human remains into soil. On May 21, 2019, Washington State’s Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 5001 which legalizes natural organic reduction, or “the contained, accelerated conversion of human remains to soil.” The law will go into effect on May 1, 2020. Colorado is the next state to be considering adding recomposition as a death care option.

Organization Type

Death Care Service

Assignment

Design a visual identity system and website that would visually embody the Recompose story and mission, while allowing for services to be purchased.

Challenge

By and large, the visual language used in the death care industry has been conservative and somber. For Recompose, we took a different tack, creating a new brand identity informed by nature that truly reflects the people behind this new death care revolution–those yearning for a more meaningful relationship with death.

Client

Recompose

Years

2019 — Ongoing

Location

Seattle, WA

Approach

The process for building the Recompose identity system and digital platform was entirely guided by nature and collaboration. Recompose’s identity is a reference to family trees and root systems, the underlying connections and relationships that serve as the foundation for our communities. Family trees signify the physical communities that come together during the milestone of death. The root systems and natural networks signify the infrastructure of relationships that exist within our natural ecosystems. Recompose’s color story is composed of a series of soft gradients that fade into one another, similar to the quiet passing of the seasons.

We wanted every element of the Recompose brand to be tactile—to feel as if it was from the earth yet guided by human touch. The team gathered and collected items from our local Northwest forests to create a series of intentional, natural tableaus captured by photographer Amanda Ringstad. These tableaus are featured throughout the website, as well as in the physical and digital collateral.

People will be visiting the Recompose website with varying states of need, emotion, and understanding. We learned a lot from our user research about the different reasons people will be visiting the Recompose website. Some people may have just heard about this innovation in sustainability and want to learn more, some people are planning their own future death services, while others could be in immediate need of services and in the beginning stages of grieving a loved one. We were very intentional in choosing the words used in the navigation as well as exposing the in-page section anchors so visitors could quickly and confidently find the information they need. The navigation was structured to be transparent, helpful, and compassionate.

Research

Burial Methods, Family Trees, Natural Networks, Sculptures by Andy Goldsworthy, Root Systems

Quote

“When organic material dies in nature, microbes and bacteria break it down into nutrient-rich soil, completing the life cycle. In nature, death creates life.”
– Katrina Spade, founder of Recompose

Components

Identity System, Print Collateral System, Digital Collateral System, Environmental Graphic System, Information Architecture, Wireframing, User Experience Design, User Interface Design and Development, CMS Development

Technical Specs

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, WordPress

i
Rendering by Olson Kundig of a Recompose ceremony.
Recompose offers a radically new approach to end-of-life disposition and ritual. The service gently converts human remains into soil, so that we can nourish new life after we die.
I

We wanted the Recompose website to be almost tactile, to feel as if it was from the earth, guided by human touch. As you travel down the homepage, photographs of natural collages are set against soft gradients fading into one another, reminiscent of the passing of the seasons.

II

Recompose’s identity is a reference to family trees and root systems, the underlying connections and relationships that serve as the foundation for our communities.

III

A collage composed of found objects in nature, photography concept by Civilization and photographs by Amanda Ringstad for use across digital and physical collateral.

IV

A rendering by Olson Kundig, architects for Recompose’s first facility in Seattle, WA,  showing a body readied for “The Laying In” phase of the Recompose process.

V

Graphics illustrating how the Recompose process works. Microbes, oxygen, and plant matter combine to gently convert human remains into soil.

VI

The Planning Ahead section of the site describes the environmental impact of recomposition–the process saves a metric ton of carbon dioxide per body–and outlines how to sign up for the service.

VII

A printed brochure outlining the Recompose mission and process.

VIII

Printed envelopes using the Recompose identity and color system.

IX

A collage composed of found objects in nature, photography concept by Civilization and photographs by Amanda Ringstad for use across digital and physical collateral.

X

The extended identity system includes social media templates formatted for Instagram and Instagram Stories.

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