Birgit Severin is a Berlin-based designer with a background in psychology. Challenging the assumption that design should aim to create symbols of a perfect life, her work investigates how things acquire meaning as part of a personal narrative or by reflecting universal themes such as transformation, identification and belonging, while embracing life’s impermanence, unpredictability and death. Ashes is a series of vases and bowls, which grew from combining contemporary production techniques with handcraft. The process uses 3D printing, rubber rotation casting and freehand modelling to produce a flowing, matte surface, overlayed with a sparkling pattern of jewel-like dots. Expressing different stages of ‚withering‘, the vases also reference the Vanitas symbolism an object could have in art history, by exploring associations between beauty and death. ”The expressive power of withering was commonly used to represent the idea of vanitas in art, particularly in Flemish painting. Flowers and fruit are symbols of beauty, youth and pleasure. Simultaneously, in their decay they become reminders of life’s brevity and the inevitability of death”, says Severin, whose Ashes project reinterprets this concept for the context of the modern household. (mb)