New funeral parlour ‘Exit Here’ introduces life to the business of death
Introducing Exit Here, London’s next-generation funeral director breaking the taboos surrounding life and death
It’s been said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. While successive governments try their best to ‘refresh’ the latter, little has been done to update the traditions surrounding funerals since the Victorian period.
Often, personal experiences of funeral parlours consist of generous people dealing with the death of loved ones with sensitivity and warmth. However, there’s still a sense of the stuffy, of lace curtains and black trim.
Exit Here is the surprising brainchild of restaurateur Oliver Peyton and Transit Studio, and aims to open up funeral parlours; to make them accessible, contemporary, and, for want of a better word, less of a scary prospect. Having previously worked together refurbishing the RA Café, Peyton and Transit seem to have gone a little left-field with their next project. Ben Masterton-Smith, Director of Transit, admits as much: ‘It was such an extraordinary brief to rethink the future of the funeral parlour that we couldn’t say no.’
‘Through research and discussion, as well as understanding how the industry operates, we hope we have made what is inevitably a difficult time somewhat easier through our designs, with greater possibility for a more personalised experience.’
Design is focussed on creating a more domestic environment. Inside, a large, curved corridor links two private meeting spaces — one set up as a living room and another a dining room — to the parlour’s ‘contemplation space’. A mix of modern and vintage furniture along with more cheerful colours and timber flooring add to the open, personal feel, while a folding timber screen for the windows has been designed by Giles Wilson-Copp to add privacy when requested.
There’s no more clutter on the outside: a simple, clean shopfront aided by a previously-existing art deco frontage and a hand-scripted neon sign is all that’s needed — and no mention of the service behind the door.
The old rules have also been updated when it comes to caskets. Human hips have actually become wider, meaning that the tapering found on most caskets is now an outdated template. The new, symmetrical design comes in a core range of colours, but can also be personalised, and for an extra touch, Exit Here’s Day of the Dead-inspired casket (pictured below) is hand-drawn and aims to emulate the festival’s celebration of life and death, rather than the melancholic approach we seem to thrive on traditionally.
The taboos surrounding death are passé, and like Peyton, Masterton-Smith is a firm believer in opening up the concept of death: ‘We hope that our work can help break down attitudes and taboos around talking about death, so that ultimately people can really choose how they would like to be remembered and celebrated.’ Exit right. §