The age of hyper-personalization is upon us. Soon businesses will be able to match products with our needs on a biological level, satisfying a consumer desire that our possessions be one of a kind and inimitable. To imbue them with a special meaning we have started to look – quite literally – within. As tiny pieces of us start living inside the objects we own, immortality may become companies’ final frontier.
Here are some new products that bring to life some of our most morbid obsessions:
The worlds of biology and tattoo artistry collided to form Everence, an invention that allows you to infuse someone else’s DNA into your tattoo ink. A combination of the words Forever and Reverence, Everence activates “your ability to permanently connect to those who inspire you.” A DNA sample from a cheek swab or a person’s cremated remains is powdered and stored in an elegant vial, which is then brought to a tattoo artist for mixing with your tattoo ink. DNA tattoos can even draw molecules from your pets. These tattoos are arguably the epitome of romantic expression. But Endeavor Life Sciences co-founder Patrick Duffy has an even bigger dream – one that involves Everence inside all objects of sentimental value, from paintings to textiles.
Some companies want to turn dead people into diamonds. Instead of burying or storing their loved ones’ cremated remains in urns, families have begun to opt for a less traditional option: converting the ashes into gemstones. Scientifically it makes sense. Carbon makes up 18% of the average human body, lending itself conveniently to growing diamonds, which are made entirely out of carbon. Talk about a powerful gesture of remembrance. It brings new meaning to De Beers’ famous slogan, “A Diamond is Forever.” Heart-warming as it sounds, the memorial diamond may also be an answer to a logistical problem – a lack of burial space. Funeral trends indicate that in 2015 cremations outperformed burials in the U.S. With cemeteries increasingly crowded and graves costing more than ever, alternative body disposal methods are in high demand. For those who prefer their significant others resting in their hand instead of an urn, these diamonds are truly cutting-edge.
The Bios Urn – while deviating from traditional burial methods – is still less dramatic than the idea of wearing one’s husband as jewelry. These urns use human ash as growth material for trees. They are essentially planters that incubate the afterlife. The new app-controlled Bios Incube model even tracks the health of young saplings to ensure their growth into a healthy trees. Conceived by Gerard and Roger Moliné, these smart planters make grieving an interactive process. Bios Urn early adopter Jay Junker said he would eventually like to replace traditional gravestones and marble statues with mini forests, so that family members can walk amongst the deceased surrounded by chirping birds and rustling leaves. And not to worry; worms will still be right at home.
The “ash diamond” is probably the most morbid idea humans have had since “placenta pills.” A placenta pill is exactly what it sounds like: The placenta is pulverized into edible powder for the mother to consume after delivery. Kim Kardashian did it. January Jones endorses it. But scientists have officially declared that eating your own afterbirth is probably a bad idea. Others say it makes no real difference during the postpartum period. Some would go so far as to call it cannibalism. Concoctions like placenta pills and breast milk lattes evidently are inspired by the belief that human organs make for mortality-boosting elixirs. Fun fact: the word placenta comes from the Latin word for cake, referring to its flat and round shape. Not so unappetizing after all.
If we want to, we now can carry pieces of our loved ones in our tattoos, jewelry and gardens. On the one hand it’s an incredibly intimate and symbolic gesture of love, but on the other it seems awfully vain. Isn’t embedding objects with one’s physical self a pointed exercise in egotism? What is a DNA tattoo but a modern, self-important mausoleum? These practices highlight a special production process – a kind of egonomics – wherein we want our very own essence and individuality to breathe life into mass-manufactured goods.
These items may also have a low resale value – unless of course, it’s a famous person’s DNA – especially because they’re identical to products without the “human essence.” Aesthetically, there’s no telling a regular diamond from one made with a dead person’s remains, or normal tattoo ink from DNA-infused ink.
Hyper-personalization serves the living and honors the dead. It makes one wonder if Glossier’s first perfume, “Glossier You,” appeals to our ambitions of immortality. Not only does the brand’s new concept shop sport a vampire red interior, even the perfume’s slogan is decidedly morbid: “Please be advised that the formula comes incomplete; you are the first ingredient.”