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2009/101/1 Coffin, 'Stately Tree', cardboard / plastic / metal, designed and made by LifeArt Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2009. Click to enlarge.

Cardboard coffin

This coffin is significant as a design object, and also as an example of an Australian made product that has been designed and manufactured to minimise its negative impact on the environment. It is made from specifically engineered cardboard called "Enviroboard", which is made from 97% recycled materials and produces up to 60% fewer carbon emissions than regular coffins made from MDF or particle board.

LifeArt coffins are not only made from recycled materials, but can also be custom designed …


Object No.


Object Statement

Coffin, 'Stately Tree', cardboard / plastic / metal, designed and made by LifeArt Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2009

Physical Description

Cardboard and plastic coffin featuring a design of a photographic print of trees. The lid of the coffin is attached to the base and cannot be opened. Four silver coloured metal handles are fixed to the sides of the coffin. Maker's marks are visible on the base.
Inside the coffin is a pillow wrapped in white plastic, a fabric pillow cover and six screws with large silver heads.


Company logo of a stylised orange flower is printed on the base. Printed below this is the company website and coffin design name: ' / Stately Tree ©'.
A number is inscribed on the base in ink: '1155'.



365 mm


660 mm


11 kg



This product was designed by Natalie Verdon and Eckhard Kemmerer, founders of LifeArt Australia. The product was manufactured at their Silverwater factory, Sydney.

The coffin is made from specifically engineered cardboard called "Enviroboard", which is manufactured using fibres recovered from 65% post-consumer kraft paper waste and 35% sugar cane waste bonded with cornstarch glue. These are compressed between two printable liners to make an ultra-strong, ultra-light board. The outer liner is made of 92% post-consumer kraft paper waste and 8% virgin fibre from Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources. There is about 300g of cornstarch glue in the board used to make a LifeArt coffin.

Most Australian coffins (89%) are made of Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF), often called kraftwood. MDF is made by bonding virgin wood fibre with formaldehyde resin under pressure and heat. There is about 3.2kg of formaldehyde resin in the board used to make an MDF coffin. Making the board used in an MDF coffin releases the equivalent of about 33 kg of CO² into the atmosphere. Making the recycled cardboard used in a LifeArt coffin releases the equivalent of about 13kg of CO² into the atmosphere. Independent cremation tests conducted by Stephenson Environmental Management found that MDF coffins had pollutant levels 213% higher than LifeArt coffins made of recycled cardboard.



This coffin was made in Sydney, and displayed from 1 August 2009 at the Powerhouse Museum in the 'Eat Green Design' showcase as part of the Sydney Design 09 festival.

Created by Cilla Maden of Collaborate, Eat Green Design was a temporary exhibition, restaurant and theatrette, hosting diners, guest speakers, and the latest 'green' products. It encouraged participants to stretch the perception of what 'sustainability' means and challenged them to explore the ways in which they could incorporate the principles of ecologically sustainable design into their own lives.

The Eat Green Design installation was designed and purpose-built by award-winning architect Hannah Tribe of Tribe Studio, Surry Hills, and demonstrated best practice principles in sustainable architecture and interior design. It also showcased a selection of innovative, sustainable products from independent designers from around Australia.

The Powerhouse Museum and Eat Green Design, invited designers to submit products to exhibit in a showcase during Sydney Design 09 festival. The display featured some of the best Australian product designs, highlighting the latest in sustainable, green design concepts.

The judging panel called for submission of products, by designers, and chose the most outstanding entries. Criteria included the use of efficient design - designed to minimise resource use (materials, energy, water), Safe design - avoids the use of toxic or hazardous materials, and Cyclic design - can be reused or remanufactured; uses recycled materials; materials can be easily recycled. Products must have assessed energy, water, and material efficiency throughout the design cycle, and be designed to minimise negative environmental impacts.


Credit Line

Gift of LifeArt Australia, 2009

Acquisition Date

27 November 2009

Cite this Object


Cardboard coffin 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 24 January 2022, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Cardboard coffin |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=24 January 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}