Go Green All the Way to the Grave in This "Mushroom Death Suit"

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By Aileen Kwun
"Natural Causes," a fashion project by Ace Hotel New York and Coeio, offers an eco-friendly idea for life after death.

Timed for New York Fashion Week, Ace Hotel New York has teamed with Coeio—a "green burial company"—on a month-long exhibition centering around the Infinity Burial Suit: an eco-friendly garment that promises to lessen your carbon footprint, long after you've left this world.

"The Infinity Burial Suit began as an artistic provocation that debuted at a fashion show," explains Coeio founder and CEO, Jae Rhim Lee, an MIT-trained artist and designer. "It's now a commercial product that is changing our cultural attitudes toward death and dying." 

Go Green All the Way to the Grave in This "Mushroom  Death Suit" - Photo 1 of 2 -

Produced in collaboration with zero-waste fashion designer Daniel Silverstein, Coeio's Infinity Burial Suit, also known as the "Mushroom Death Suit," is embedded with flesh-eating mushrooms and micro-organisms that effectively digest and decompose deceased matter. Intended as a green alternative to burial practice, it cleans and neutralizes toxins that are introduced to the body throughout one's lifetime, and which remain in the body, even after death. It then transfers nutrients to burial grounds, making them more fertile for plants, in the process. 

Though we've written about the experimental uses of mycelium in product design and even architecture, this offers a new use case altogether. Not for the faint of heart, it's an oddly and aptly poetic gesture for the natural cycle of life and death, and an interesting exploration into the notion of giving your body to science. As the Ace puts it: "It's like a future-oriented mushroom dirge."

"The Infinity Burial Suit began as an artistic provocation that debuted at a fashion show. It's now a commercial product that is changing our cultural attitudes towards death and dying." —Jae Rhim Lee, Coeio founder/CEO

The notion may sound tongue-in-cheek, but with hard scientific research behind its design, Coeio has turned the avant-garde, conceptual project into an venture-backed business endeavor—and the long-term environmental benefits could be very real. (According to this article by Mental Floss, embalming a single human body can yield up to 120 gallons of waste, and gaseous build-up can cause something called "exploding casket syndrome.")

Go Green All the Way to the Grave in This "Mushroom  Death Suit" - Photo 2 of 2 - The Forever Spot by Coeio offers Infinity Burial Suits made for pets.

The Forever Spot by Coeio offers Infinity Burial Suits made for pets.

The Infinity Burial Suit will be on view at Ace Hotel New York's gallery through September 30, with an opening reception and a ceremonious burial suit performance happening tonight, complete with a live ensemble performing select works by composer John Cage, who, fittingly, was a noted mushroom collector himself. 

And for those looking to—ah—think ahead, the Mushroom Death Suit is priced at $1,500, with suits for pets available at Coeio's The Forever Spot.

"Natural Causes" is on view through September 30, 2016 at Ace Hotel New York, with an opening reception on September 8 at 6pm. Free and open to the public.

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