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Legacy Conversation Pieces

Conversation pieces about mortality

Photo of Tim de Roos
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

Legacy is a combination of a sculpture and a wearable to remind people about the finity of life.


As a 22 year old you do not get confronted with mortality or death. Last year I got confronted with mortality in my family, this sudden impact on my life made me realize I never thought or spoke about it with anyone. Death is a part of life and (at this point in time) everyone will be affected by it and, eventually, die themselves. So why don't we talk more about it? 

The product Legacy offers a safekeeping to put valuable information that can be accessed by loved ones in case of death. The input can be both practical (what happens with my body, what would I want at my ceremony or even passwords to social media) and/or emotional (a personal letter to your loved ones, something to pass on).

We could put all this info in a binder, put that binder in a drawer and never look at it again, but the truth is that your personal situation changes, you might want to add, change or remove something completely. If you are not reminded somehow, it will be forgotten, get outdated and still remain a taboo subject.

This is why we designed the combination of a sculpture which doubles as a safe, and a ring (or other piece of jewelry) that doubles as a key. This way you are secured that only you are able to acces this information whilst you live.

Image title
First design sketches

The Sculpture
The sculpture is egg-shaped, this non-religious form has no hard edges and is thus soft to the touch. We chose the egg because it is also clearly not a sign of death but one of life (and maybe even of prosperity/fertility). In nature it is where genetical code is passed on to the next generation, in our design it is where lessons learned of life can be passed on to the next generation. For our first prototype we would like to make the egg out of stacked and sanded poplar wood, a relatively cheap and easy material that has a light color.

Size mockup

 The egg is slightly slanted and has a diagonal cut that seperates it to acces the inside. On the inside we still have some designing to do, we are really curious what people would like to place inside the egg. It should have enough space to put in everything that is needed. However we want to design it in a way that it can not be used for other purposes (e.g. a piggybank). 


The Wearable
The wearable prototype is a ring. A small piece that can serve as a key to open the egg. For the first prototype we imagine a numerical combination lock, the sequence to open this lock is engraved on the inside of the ring. The basic design of the ring is that it is not a complete circle, just like life it will have a beginning and an ending. Further designing is needed to create a professional look. Our first prototype has been made using polymer clay according to some basic design sketches.

Rings example

For future designs we might be interested in locking the egg with an nfc-chip lock, so when you touch the egg, whilst wearing the ring on that hand the egg wil automatically unlock. In the sculpture could also be placed a small vibration element (the same as in mobile phones), this element will activate once a year to remind you to update your information. These technological extra's are not viable for the first prototype. This also goes for possible other materials as seen below.

Material mockups

Our team consists of 2 master-students from the HKU (University of the arts Utrecht) with a network/connection to REshape Innovation Center, the RadboudUMC, DELA and Hart van Hout. Ofcourse we are looking to create more opportunities and collaborations!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We would like to place a cultural probe with a group of people, giving them a wooden box and the assignment to place in it what they would like to leave behind for their loved ones.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

For our first prototype we are looking to make a prototype with basic interaction, for this we need people with the following skills: Productdesigners, 3d modelers, design-researchers and craftsmen (mainly with wood)

For further development we want to make a more high-end product, for this we need a material guru, an interaction designer and perhaps IT developers to expand features into digital solutions.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am currently finishing a masters in Crossover Creativity at HKU (University of the arts Utrecht). As a product/service designer I have had experience with design based research. My partner, Lotte Rensen (also HKU master) has experience with innovation within healthcare and pallative care.

This idea emerged from

  • A student collaboration


Join the conversation:

Photo of OpenIDEO

Welcome to the refinement phase Tim! Here are some key questions and milestones we encourage from all ideas in the Refinement:

1. How might this idea address the unique needs of the target audience you're designing for?
2. Clearly summarize the value offering of your idea in 1-2 sentences
3. Communicate your idea in a visual way with user experience maps
4. Identify assumptions that need to be answered in order to validate your value offering:
5. Collect feedback from potential partners and users to answer the assumptions you’ve identified.

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 07/12" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

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