The Liminal Space

All Projects

The Departure Lounge


What was the challenge?

Thanks to advances in medical science we are now living for longer than ever before. One consequence of this is that we have become increasingly disconnected from death and dying, and despite a third of us thinking about the subject at least once a week we find it hard to talk about, not just with friends and family but also with the doctors and professionals that care for us at the end of life.

The Academy of Medical Sciences commissioned us to start a public conversation about the end of life and how we can support people to have a ‘good death’ in the future.


What did we do?

Working with the Academy and a range of its Fellows, we explored the physical and emotional questions that arise from thinking about death. Through workshops, interviews and research we investigated how we can come to terms with death and how we can best prepare for dying. We combined this with the leading medical research and evidence into best practice end of life care, and created a range of audio, video and 2D designed content for audiences to explore.

With death the final destination for us all, we conceived and developed an installation inspired by the idea of travel and journeys - highlighting the fact that like all journeys, the experience can be better or worse depending on how informed and prepared we are. The Departure Lounge design took inspiration from classic airport tropes, with suitcases filled with people’s end of life experiences, luggage tags which revealed how medical science has changed the way we die, an interactive departures board which explored what it means to have a ‘good death’, and departure gates where visitors had the opportunity to speak to a range of experts in end of life care. 


The Departure Lounge appeared in a South London shopping centre in 2019. Open to the public for a month, over 2500 people visited and neary 250 left stories to be displayed as part of the installation. The project received extensive coverage across print, online, TV and radio, with a full page feature in Time Out and live pieces on London Live and BBC London Radio. To extend the reach of the project 60 ‘flat-pack’ versions of the Departure Lounge are being sent out to organisations and institutions across the country. 

The Academy worked with the Liminal Space to create The Departure Lounge – our most ambitious public engagement project to date. Their creativity and innovation was fundamental to the success of the project. They have an ability to unpick complex scientific information and translate it in imaginative and playful ways to create truly engaging and meaningful experiences. Their creative approach is backed up by solid project management and a dedication to delivering results no matter how wide the brief or tight the timeline.
— Nick Hillier, Communications Director, Academy of Medical Sciences