We currently live in a consumption-oriented society within which is rather fundamental to be able to find alternatives, in regards to the impact that products and the materials they consist of originate (e.g. pollution on every level of the ecosystem). To this end, the ambitious aim of developing innovative and impact-less products is one of the great challenges the society must deal with. Within such context, an innovative an unique approach can be found by implementing fungal mycelium for the development of completely new materials.
Mycelium is the vegetative part of fungi, which consists of a network of interconnected filamentous cells called hyphae. The mycelium of mushroom- forming basidiomycetes is highly attractive and embodies a great potential, because of its tendency of growing on a wide variety of substrates, therefore resulting into a range of diverse materials and applications, related to the architecture and the design fields. Moreover, this organic network of filamentous cells is characterised by peculiar properties, such as strength, elasticity, thickness, homogeneity and water repellency.
The project studies and analyses the mechanisms underlying structural and decorative properties of the mycelium as well as their improvement, while exploring and assessing natural variations, environmental growth conditions and genetic qualities of the selected mycelia. This, in order to identify tailor-made mycelia for use as alternatives to traditional oil-based plastics.
Officina Corpuscoli, together with qualified scientists and researchers, has directly conducted research in the Microbiology Lab (Fungal group) of Utrecht Universiteit, as part of the NWO project ‘Mycelium Design’ (Jan.2014 – Dec.2015)
Through an open call, the partners have invited artists and designers to participate in the project as part of the Myco Design Lab, hosted at Stichting Mediamatic.
Along the duration of the project, OC and UU developed a palette of materials by making use of natural variation, environmental growth conditions, and genetic modification.
These materials were provided to the selected artists and designers, who explored their potential (qualities and opportunities) and provided Officina Corpuscoli feedback about the way properties needed to be improved to meet requirements for a range of specific products and applications. Such process lead to the development of novel material concepts and qualities, for unprecedented design solutions.
The results have been presented as part of the exhibition FUNGAL FUTURES / Growing Domestic Bio-Landscapes.
‘Mycelium Design’ was by a NWO grant (Embedded Research) for the Creative Industry.
Concept, design and development:
Maurizio Montalti (OC), Han Wösten (UU), Willem Velthoven (Mediamatic)
Maurizio Montalti (OC), Han Wösten (UU), Pauline Krijgsheld (UU), Kasia Lukasiewicz (UU), Luis Lugones (UU)
Maurizio Montalti (OC), Rosa Kieft (MM)
Maurizio Montalti (OC)
Maurizio Montalti (OC)