MDes Interior Design School of Design

Craig Dalziel

After completing the undergraduate course in Interior Design at GSA, I joined the master’s programme in order to explore my potential as a designer in a more unconventional individualistic approach. As a designer I seek to design typologies that do not exist, with particular interest in speculative narratives within space. By using interior design as a creative medium, I strive to tell a story, incorporating and drawing upon my passion for historical reference through a contemporary lens with further relation to aim and explore social and environmental issues within space – to inform and educate, allowing us to open question and challenge our society. Through narrative design I like the idea that space/ interiors can potentially be used in ways to highlight, teach or convey a message both through designing/or performing in space. I’m also a multidisciplinary designer and incorporate graphics, illustration, collage, and 3d modelling into my practice also.

Life After Death – The Passing: Introduction
The Passing
The Transitional Space

Life After Death – The Passing: Introduction

We’re dying to know…What happens after death…Anything can happen, right?..

In the beginning I automatically associated and thought of the term life after death as just the afterlife, a paradise: you know an end point. However, through extensive research what I found was that death was not only openly expressed and deeply rooted within ancient history (which is unlike today), but that death is a process. It is an astral journey through the universe.

This Project: Life After Death – The Passing revolves around conceptualizing the representation of life after death, more specifically the transitional process from the moment of death to the destination of an afterlife. It aims to encapsulate and explore this idea of an alternative spatial narrative to human death and the astral journey one takes towards an afterlife with historical reference, drawing upon religious/ mythological cosmology. In short, religious/ mythological cosmology is a framework for understanding the origins of the universe based on beliefs, it also discusses this is the context of life after death – the pathway to a higher being, deity, god etc – spiritual realms that are described to be somewhat reachable only and after death has occurred. Places that are betwixt and between death and the afterlife.

Moreover, this project also aims to take a more amicable approach within my design. To open discussion, and to introduce alternative ways to look at life after death than to automatically simply say nothing happens as well as associating negative connotation alongside it. As well as to encourage more to be accepting of it.


In short, it’s spatial design narrative centres around this concept of travelling through the celestial bodies (the planets) – which is how the astral journey is depicted.

By creating collages of these celestial bodies (seven realms), it was a useful way to reimagine/ reconstruct to visually encapsulate all the characteristics that each historical reference portrayed as each had similar but slightly various interpretations of the celestial bodies in order to explore its spatial narrative plethora. Certain characteristics that were described and prevalent throughout each celestial body included: figures, materiality and objects.

I make reference that this transitional process/space relates to that of Liminal space.  I read this thesis called ‘Moses and liminality’ that pulls in other works stating that liminal space can be separated into three categories:

1. The liminal Space/shell itself (the environment)

2. Liminal events and periods

3. Liminal entities (people or instruments)

I began to utilize this concept as a rough guide when creating my collages of the seven celestial bodies to capture these characteristics I previously mentioned above which are depicted in my reinterpreted/reimagined collages below.

Mercury Collage

Liminal environment: Mercury Liminal Entity: Hermes Event: travel, messenger

Mars Collage

Liminal Environment - Mars Liminal Entity - Nergal, Ares Event - war, conflict, destruction, weapons

Venus Collage

Liminal environment - Venus Liminal Entity - Inanna, Venus, Aphrodite Event - love, birth, fruition, romance

Jupiter Collage

Liminal Environment - Jupiter Liminal Figure - Marduk, Zeus, Amun Event - Leader, kingship, father of thunder, throne

Sun Collage

Liminal environment - Sun Liminal entity - Sol, Apollo, Shamash Event - Holy, overseer,

Saturn Collage

Liminal Environment - Saturn Liminal Figure - Cronus, Ninuna Event -Agriculture, harvest, seeds, nature

Moon Collage

Liminal environment - Moon Liminal Entity - Luna Event - light, agriculture,

Old board games were used to teach certain moral lesson depending on the culture. I really began to think and like the idea that space and interiors could potentially be used to morally teach someone something. Furthermore, undergoing a task was very important when it came to the narrative of life after death which was deeply expressed within the research I found on this transitional process within religious/cultural doctrine as well as it being a contributing factor to how liminal space operates as well, which I mentioned earlier. Specifically, number 2 – Liminal events and periods. Thus, this space also aims to incorporate that type of functionality.

What do I want to teach users?

As a society we are heading into a future that aims to be tech led. We are already seeing terms such as ‘digital deaths’ and ‘mind uploading’ being introduced using VR, metaverse etc which aims to be the future of human deaths. To have control of death. Death seems to be evolving. At the beginning, I was interested to incorporate this idea using technology to explore death but as I delved deeper my views changed on this. These concepts loosely already exist, concepts that are not regulated properly which can be harmful and scary. It was important for me to not convey that within this project. I don’t want people viewing my project to only see death as a painful experience, but rather one of moral importance.

In addition, I think people to an extent are sort of leaving our physical world behind in hopes of this new digital future, becoming less concerned with it. As much as people want to ignore it there remains serious social, economic and environmental issues going on in our physical realm if we want life to continue and have a future, which is something I want to highlight within my design as it fits into this idea of morality. I think one of the key messages as to why I’ve kept with the design of the spheres to represent and encapsulate the seven celestial realms is to show that such issues are happing on such a global scale within our own physical realm world – Earth. I think viewers of this project need to see the importance of our physical future as well as to remind people the nature and importance of life.

To define the task or event which will in turn develop what message I want to express within my design I analysed my collages to create illustrated word and imagery to begin to define its spatial narrative and to express what was going through my mind as I looked at them.

The Passing


The final design and its function are based on word style games such scrabble. The task is for the user to make their way to the top clearing the riddles by stepping on the words on the flooring which gets difficult the more you ascend. This is because each level is a different language (starting with your base language. It will be a spelling of words task on each level using the floor lettered panels and if the word they spell is wrong they will be pulled down and must restart at the level underneath to try again. The idea is that they are supposed to fail most of time to make you think and acknowledge the importance of multicultural languages. As this project is related to death, of course there is some sort of danger. The user is also within a race against the clock. The huge structure within the centre of this space symbolises coal burning power plants towers which results in mercury vapour. Thus, as time goes by, the rise of mercury and the vapour will increase, melting the game away. This space aims to highlight and show how devastating the coal burning process is can be and how dangerous it is for our planet.


The idea behind this design and the task undertook involves creating a doll within its doll house chamber. The pod in the centre represents the womb. The task mirrors a sense of fragility between the doll and a woman’s body which is why it is so exposed making you proceed with caution during this process. This aims to highlight the level of control we have over our bodies. In addition the image represents the continuous cycle of life and rebirth from its inception below, to the flower blooming towards the heavens, and the astral journey.


The moon proved quite a challenge for it final outlook. It is definitely a more interpretative image than the others. The space (moon) aims to communicate its multiple personalities To me it conveys and encompasses the state of one’s being. As humans we experience various emotions. The moon therefore teaches us about ourselves, thus the task is to just sit within this space and to just experience- to centre ourselves and find peace that we may have never found in the mortal world. The design aims to highlight the both good and bad mental states humans can succumb to and that all are equal and valid as each other no matter what state.

The Sun

The task is to make your way through the multi-level maze structure which will be in the dark. It is designed to block and restrict your vision as you will be in the dark.. This aims to highlight the privilege one has with being able to see. The space is not handicapped at all to help you which further symbolises how much of a problem this poses to people of today. There are still spaces that are not fully handicapped for everyone needs still. The use of the skeleton expresses just how open and exposed you are within such an environment even if you are unable to see. The task shows that there is no guarantee of success in life, and there is always a risk of failure. Ultimately it’s a test of your physical, mental and spiritual strength. At the same time though its also telling you to walk your own path, don’t let anything around you influence your vision of life.


This task and space explores the theme of war. It takes the game of 3D chess to explore command over a topographical map. The chess boards will be filled with people rather than pawns and the user must win to proceed to the top. This task is to show the importance of decision making as well as to experience of having another persons life in your hand. There is no way to properly win this game however, as the people on the chess board will have to fight when they land on the same square. This shows that there is always suffering on each side. If you fail, the floating swords above the chess boards will come crashing down through the chess board into the mountain, unleashing the active volcano which destroys everything. This further highlight just how destructive weapons are as well as their damage to the earth’s lands.


The aim of the game pull inspiration from rising issues surrounding the melting caps and climate change. The ice climb is structured into a social hierarchy of Arctic animals as they are becoming endangered within the environment.. The user must climb up the structure to save the animals avoiding the falling ice shards (which further portrays the message the ice caps are melting) which could also harm the animals The aims is to show that all life is important to our environment no matter how one is or is not well off.


Saturn aims to highlight the importance of hard work - the importance of providing and sustaining life. The space is designed around the concept of a greenhouse as the space is currently filled with greenhouse gasses. The aim is to restore the environment to make it inhabitable again by planting and growing trees within the centre just like you would grow plants inside a greenhouse.. By growing trees, it will adsorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that have been driving global heating. It teaches us to be patient as good things come with time. Even for the smallest of actions as just watering it can create big changes not just to itself but its surroundings.

The Transitional Space

When beginning to think about site, I didn’t necessarily think that my design could be located within our mortal realm, rather one that lived outside it and within our imagination. I was made to think about its spatial boundary in a more unconventional way. Yet find correlation between how the space operated to that of interior buildings which existed in our own world.

I aimed to combine aspects from both the Seven Heavens and the Sefirot that stemmed from my religious/mythological cosmology research to create a spatial structure through sketching. The visual depictions from the seven heavens and sefirot in my research already explore verticality which was important to express within this design as it conveyed the idea of ascension. I liked this idea that the astral journey of life after death is made up of stages/ realms – it is a series of transitions which is something I wanted to stick to within my spatial design.

During my exploration I took interest in how each celestial body (the planets) related to a specific body part within the sefirot diagram specifically which I decided to draw out to see how both related in relation to scale, and its potential reconfiguration of its shape. As a result, it made me think about the human skeleton and bone which in turn further made me question: What if bone could be utilized as a structuring mechanism to build or configure the boundaries of my space?

Death ends with the skeleton thus I wanted to explore the relationship between bone and the celestial bodies.

During my sketching process I was being reminded of a circular staircase – one that resided within the mysteriousness of a castle. I was further reminded that a staircase also represents liminal space because it acts as a threshold between two points – floors, rooms etc. This in turn led me to see of bone acting as a staircase – how its job is to connect and support everything around.

Moreover, I decided to stick to this concept of individual spatial bubbles as it represented the individualistic nature of the seven celestial bodies that the user would experience as a series of transitions. The overall outlook (spatial boundary) conveys the inner works of bone marrow.

The final spatial design mirrors that of a castle tower structure as well as the layout and function of storied flats (apartments). The bone acts as a stairway and is the backbone and main supporting structure within this space (just like how the skeleton support the human body). As the body ends with the skeleton after death thus the user always returns to the structure of bone – the staircase, which hosts the various other transitional spaces – the celestial bodies – just like various homes in a flat on different levels. By mirroring this narrow verticality within my design, it aims to capture that feeling of accession. It becomes a tower of liminality, and so my spatial design narrative centres around this concept of travelling through the celestial bodies (the planets) which is what the astral journey is about.