Taste and Burials

Death in a Discworld Novel

One of the surprising things during the last month was how … badly designed many obituaries and other aspects of a funeral are. I don’t mean badly designed in the sense of failing to fulfill their purpose, just … they aren’t very aesthetic.

The funeral director did show us several obituaries — paper cards to send to family and friends, notifying them of my father’s death. And they were … gruesome. Badly selected fonts, no consistent design or page area, even freaking images with blurred borders. They screamed Microsoft Word — and yeah, they were actually done with Word. Don’t get me wrong, he did the organizational aspect of the funeral fairly well, but he shouldn’t “design” obituaries. I asked him for his template and designed a (I think) better version myself (in *shudder* Word), but he was unable to print it (apparently, he did not own or could use a borderless printer). At least he was open and honest about it — and totally accepted when we had them printed somewhere else (who did a good job, I just wish they had contacted me first after my mother gave them the PDF of the Affinity Publisher designed card — I could have added some bleed, would have made it easier for them). And yeah, I might be biased, but I like the result much more than any of the designs I have seen. The image covers the full page, thus it can be framed and still looks okay.

Similarly, the urn. It’s okay, but it was the only one of about 20 or so that passed the minimum standard. Most looked like those small trash bins you put on a table. I would have liked to design it myself, but due to the short time frame, that wasn’t possible. Also, due to the kind of funeral (first cremated, then buried close to a tree), it had to be bio-degradable.

Still, I think there is a niche here — for material that actually is well-designed. Not flashy — it shouldn’t distract — and not cliché, but classy. There’s this old saying that you need to have taste to detect bad taste, and it might apply here. And judging by the positive reaction to the obituary design, good design gets noticed.

And damn, he did deserve a good design, and he got it.

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