Rebox // Senior Thesis

2015

 

I began my senior thesis project by doing extensive research into the psychology and anthropology of personification and anthropomorphism — how and why humans are hardwired to perceive human-like traits in non-human subjects.

I became particularly interested in the emotional attachments that we often develop towards inanimate objects we interact with and wanted to use personification to draw attention to this phenomenon.

 

Early experiments in using anthropomorphism to illicit a strong emotional reaction.

My initial research and explorations centered primarily on the use of anthropomorphism to illicit strong emotional reactions to objects. I wanted to understand what attributes have the most impact on effectively conveying human emotions.

What I found in my research as well as my own observations was that the less literal the human-like features in an object, the more
anthropomorphic it seemed to be. This led me to explore the idea of personification through metaphor to evoke emotions.

I also looked at the psychology behind emotional attachment, loss, and how that extends beyond humans to the objects that surround us.

 

 

“Those who lost possessions ... went through a process of grief similar to that in losing a loved one—moving from denial to anger, to depression, and finally to acceptance (often after many months).”

"We are what we possess."

Belk, Russell W. “Possissions and the Extended Self.” Journal of Consumer Research 15 (1988): 139-68. Web.

 

 

From this research and exploration came the idea for Rebox - a series of funeral caskets made specifically for the things we love when they have passed away/broken/become obsolete.

Building the caskets meant diving into the art of woodworking, as well as learning about the funeral industry. I had to identify the different hardwoods that not only could be worked and finished well at a scale smaller than traditional cabinetry, but that denote various levels of value.

The phenomenon of the ‘unboxing ceremony’ has become a common practice and is somewhat representational of the birth of a product. Eventually, the lifecycle of all products will end, so I am providing a way to ‘rebox’ the things we love, to help us cope with loss by honoring the life of these products.

 
 
 

Caskets for phones, glasses, and watches are available in a variety of materials including Honduran Mahogany, Walnut, and Curly Maple.

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