WELLINGTON: When the pallbearers brought Phil McLean’s coffin into the chapel, there were gasps before a wave of laughter rippled through the hundreds of mourners.
The coffin was a giant cream donut.
“It overshadowed the sadness and the hard times in the last few weeks,” said his widow, Debra. “The final memory in everyone’s mind was of that donut, and Phil’s sense of humor.”
The donut was the latest creation by Phil’s cousin Ross Hall, who runs a business in Auckland, New Zealand, called Dying Art, which custom builds colourful coffins.
Other creations by Hall include a sailboat, a firetruck, a chocolate bar and Lego blocks. There have been glittering coffins covered in fake jewels, a casket inspired by the movie The Matrix, and plenty of coffins depicting people’s favorite beaches and holiday spots.
“There are people who are happy with a brown mahogany box and that’s great,” said Hall. “But if they want to shout it out, I’m here to do it for them.”
The idea first came to Hall about 15 years ago when he was writing a will and contemplating his own death.
“How do I want to go out?,” he thought to himself, deciding it wouldn’t be like everyone else. “So I put in my will that I want a red box with flames on it.”
Six months later, Hall, whose other business is a signage and graphics company, decided to get serious. He approached a few funeral directors who looked at him with interest and skepticism. But over time, the idea took hold.
Hall begins with special-made blank coffins and uses fiberboard and plywood to add details. A latex digital printer is used for the designs. Some orders are particularly complex, like the sailboat, which included a keel and rudder, cabin, sails, even metal railings and pulleys.
Depending on the design, the coffins retail for between about 3,000 and 7,500 New Zealand dollars ($2,100 and $5,400).
Hall said the tone of funerals has changed markedly over recent years.
“People now think it’s a celebration of life rather than a mourning of death,” he said. And

Share.

Comments are closed.