betty July 11, 2022

SINGAPORE – Design student Loo Zi Ling wants women who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth to be able to celebrate Mother’s Day too.

The 24-year-old’s entry in a design competition reimagines how an urn – a sculpture of a carnation which cradles a gemstone made from breast milk – could give these women another way to remember the baby they lost.

The design concept also allows the woman who lost her baby to donate her breast milk to another who cannot produce enough for her child.

With the donor’s consent, she will receive a letter about how the child is doing every Mother’s Day.

Sharing insights from interviews with four women who had stillbirths or miscarriages, Ms Loo said: “Mother’s Day will become very painful for them. So I want to redefine it for women who went through this loss, to remind them of their initial kindness so there’s something to celebrate, even on Mother’s Day.”

Her urn design won first place in the general public category of the competition called Reinterpreting the Urn: A Symbol of Celebration.

The event is a part of Happy Urns, an initiative to encourage open conversations with loved ones about end-of-life topics to reduce stigma surrounding death.

It was organised by the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s design centre DesignZ and commissioned by philanthropic organisation Lien Foundation and Ang Chin Moh Foundation, which has helped start public education campaigns about dying, death and funerals.

Ms Loo, a final-year industrial design student at National University of Singapore, noted that some of the women regretted throwing away things that reminded them of the loss such as the baby’s clothes or the first ultrasound scan when they looked back years after.

“I wanted to turn that bitterness into a bittersweet remembrance,” she added.

She chose to focus on the loss of a baby because she finds it very emotional.

“I love working on projects that serve the underserved,” she said, adding that much of design now revolves around advertising or new technology.

“They’re new, flashy and almost capitalistic. But topics like this, it’s really designing with empathy, for underserved people. So I think there’s beauty in that.”