The Ephemeral Icon draws on the studio’s research about decomposition and regenerative transformation of organic compounds (see Bodies of Change) shifting the focus towards the possibility of employing selected fungal micro-organisms for tackling the dreadful impact originated by synthetic and toxic materials, that do not naturally decompose and whose irresponsible use has been dramatically threatening the functioning of the entire ecosystem. Namely, plastics.
By engaging in a active hands-on research process in the lab and validating the fact that the selected fungus – Phanerochaete chrysosporium – could effectively express its ability in decomposing phenolic resins and degrading plastics, such finding is pushed further through the creation of a vision and of an urgent social narrative, to help us questioning the contemporary “throw away” culture, while critically addressing the role and responsibility of designers, and of the entire design field.
The Bio Cover
“…why should not a plastic chair dress up for death?”
The project makes use of a globally well-known, pragmatic object – the Monobloc plastic chair – as a clear symbol representing the limited life expectancy characterising most consumer products, in direct opposition to the immortality of the materials that most consumer products are made of.
Highlighting the complementarity of life and death as a whole, the Bio Cover is a a tool and a product allowing to turn an inanimate, synthetic object into a living entity. Hence, the cover contributes to make the plastic chair alive, consequently allowing to trigger its process of final dissolution and death.
The mycelium-infused wool cover is in fact capable of supporting the action of the fungus, providing nutrient grounds for activating the action of the embedded fungal micro-organism and allowing it to steadily expand towards the colonisation and decomposition of the plastic material.
Once the plastic chair is fully colonised, the user can safely dispose of the chair by placing it in the garden or by literally burying it in the ground, rendering it safe nutrient for the growth of new life.
Such visionary ,though scientifically rooted transformative process is delivered as a provocative and critical statement contributing to question our “throw-away” culture, while addressing the designer’s concrete role and his ultimate responsibilities.