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​Client Project at Upenn IPD

Laural Hill Pet Project

Design Consultation for the West Laural Hill Cemetery

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​User Research

​Service Design Challenge

​Interview Analysis


​Need Finding

​Consultation Proposal

​Our Team

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Jingwen Li

Leo Ni

Sarah Malott

​Our Client


West Laurel Hill Cemetery is a cemetery located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, United States. It was founded in 1869 and is the site of many notable burials. There is currently a small pet cemetery and a pet services building at West Laurel Hill, where "Aquamation" ( a flameless cremation process) is offered for animals. The team is interested in learning of potential additional services they could offer to pet owners as a way of bringing new revenue streams into the organization. 

​Design Constraints & Criterias

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​Accessible to Pet Owners

Increase Revenue

Easy to Implement & Maintain

​Keeping affordability and convenience in mind for the average pet parent should be central

Must contribute to a measurable increase in revenue, and not be cost prohibitive

No need to hire new employees and does not require constant revising


Onsite Research


Interview Groups

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Pet Parents

To learn more about pet owners' journey and their experiences with pet death, 20 pet owners from a broad range of demographics were interviewed

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​Dog Walkers

To learn more about the types of pet owners walking their dogs through West Laurel Hill, we conducted intercept interviews and spoke with 14 people

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​Laural Hill‘s Previous Clients

To learn more about the overall service experiences that Laural Hill offers and people's  attitudes towards burial/cremation (Aquamation), 5 previous Laural's clients were interviewed

Laurel Hill 

Pet Center

Current Services & Products

Aquamation & Burial

Aquamation: $

Burial: $$$


​Memorial Jewelry


Handmade Urn

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Customized Gravestone


Memorial Tag

Pet Parents

  • Most chose cremation, and many have their pets ashes sitting on a shelf in their homes

  • Vast majority of this group chose cremation, because they felt it was the default option

“I asked for my first cat’s ashes and later on I figured out I don’t know what to do with the urn. So I didn’t ask for my second pet’s ashes, but I kind of feel bad about it.”

Dog Walkers

  • Most walkers were aware of the services at The Laurels, but it had no impact on their choice to walk in the cemetery

  • Nearly all said they walked there because of the peace and quiet, and immersion in nature

  • Dog walkers come to the cemetery for the peace and quiet, and enjoy the solitude

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Laural Hill's Previous Clients

  • Pet owners who had used the Laurels services previously were very happy, and very likely to use them again

  • Vast majority of this group chose burial, or cremation with burial

Trends Observed From Interviews

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Walkers and previous clients didn’t like the idea of services that would disrupt the peace of Laurel Hill

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Most of the first time pet owners did not plan for their pets burial needs until it was upon them

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​Ashes Storage

Most chose cremation, and have their pets ashes sitting on a shelf in their homes

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Nearly everyone felt that pets were part of their family, and many mentioned  wanting to find a way to show respect in death

​Meet Rebecca & Scout

Lifelong friendship

​Rebecca has had her dog Scout ever since he was a puppy. Scout has lived a long, full life, and Rebecca knows that won’t be with her forever. She has started thinking about what will happen to Scout once he passes away, and is trying to figure out her options. Rebecca has had many pets before Scout, and several of their ashes are still sitting in a closet in her bedroom. Rebecca doesn’t like having them stored there, but she can’t get rid of them either. 

​Rebecca‘s Journey

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​Lack of Preparation
​Lack of Emotional Support
​Lack of Respect & Closure
​Lack of Space

How Might We help pet owners plan ahead for the death of their pets?

How Might We help pet owners cope with the sadness of coming home to an empty home after pet loss?

How Might We help pet owners find a way to respectfully and conveniently store their pet's ashes?

​Identifying Needs & What Laural Hill Can Do to Help

Emotional needs are essential during the early stage of the journey; However, Laural Hill would love to maximize what they have currently and expand their services economically and efficiently. As a result, it is important to address and prioritize the needs after pet parents received the pet's remains. 

Pet owners feel obligated to keep their pet's ashes, but don't know what to do with them, and getting the ashes returned is the beginning of a new process for the pet owner.

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Many pet owners dislike having their previous pets ashes in the home, but are unsure what to do with them

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When is pet is cremated, owners can struggle to find the same sense of closure they could get from a burial

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It is important to many pet owners that their pets remains be treated with the same respect as human remains

How Might We help pet parents find a way to respectfully and conveniently store their pet's ashes and find the sense of closure?

​Ideation & Prototyping

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