Sustainable design provides benefits across a product’s lifecycle, particularly for end of life. Designers and end users are aware that as much as product lifetime can be extended, no artifact can last forever. But when looking at end of life in human beings, most people are not comfortable with dealing with death whether is their own or of someone else’s. Sustainability can provide initial strategies for designing for human death but in order to make a significant contribution to this area, designers need to address a wider set of needs that also include social, emotional and psychological issues. Models such as Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs can provide a good framework for identifying the necessary dimensions that involve designing for death. This paper describes design strategies that align with Maslow’s list of needs and uses design projects from industry and academia as examples of how to apply them. The objective of presenting these ideas and case studies is to generate awareness and discussion in an important area of design that is sometimes overlooked. Death is imminent for all human beings and design has the ability of removing pain, anxiety and fear that is often associated with it.

Date of creation, presentation, or exhibit


Document Type

Conference Paper

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CIAS)


RIT – Main Campus