Product Design

Matter of Time

Marten van Middelkoop
Practice Commercial Practices
Project New Frontiers
Major Product Design
Year Fourth Year





Winner of the Third Bachelor Award 2017 (Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences)

While in theory they could practically live forever, even the tombstones die.

Matter of Time

In The Netherlands “old” stones are crushed and dumped underneath highways. Marten van Middelkoop started an elaborate research in the tombstone industry.

Matter of Time aims to start a conversation about the taboo of tombstone reuse. The challenge in this project was to keep respecting the amount of memories and history the material is impregnated with. A broad research, both physical and theoretical, led to a self-developed technique, including exposure to extremely high temperatures.


Marten found out that the hardest part was to convince people that a tombstone is also just a stone, not reusing it would be vast wastage of precious material. He emphasized the natural characteristics of the stone by mimicking processes that can only be found deep down the Earth’s surface or in volcanoes.


The mantle clock

The mantle clock is a visualisation of transience. The stacked blocks are floating in the air while the molten basalt holds everything together. It resembles the eternal cycles of building up and breaking down, inspired by natural rock formations, showing that nothing lasts forever. The design serves two purposes within two different target groups. On the one hand, the clock is meant to be a conversation piece, a way to instigate the discussion about the way we deal with tombstones. On the other hand it can function as a memento for people that have to clear the grave, as a way of holding on to a bit of the physical stone which they cared for over the years.

Bachelor Award 2017: Marten van Middelkoop

Nominations WdKA Drempelprijs 2017 and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences Bachelor Award 2017 (shortlist)