For our first ever material spotlight feature we're focusing on the humble mushroom - a material capable of growing you anything from a bowl to a building. Below you'll find some great examples of different material companies and design studios who are utilising this amazing organism to reimagine our product landscape.
Mycelium forms the structural foundation and nutrient delivery system for mushrooms, very much like the roots of a plant. This rapidly developing organism readily grows on a wide variety of substrates, forming strong self-adhering and assembling bonds through the creation of thousands of filament strands known as hyphae. Fungi are most often found growing on numerous substrates such as plant and wood debris, and as a result can be grown on organic waste, for example Ecovative Design are using local agricultural waste, such as rice and oat husks, as a substrate for their products.
The type of materials that can be grown using mycelium have incredible natural properties - they are inherently flame retardant, water absorbent,and dielectric. People are now viewing mycelium as a viable alternative for many of the plastic products we currently use, most notably as a compostable substitute for styrofoam. It is also being viewed as a lightweight new building material, a way to produce furniture and even potentially future fashion.
To see a documentary on some of the innovators working with mycelium check out this video by Motherboard. (The video is in Dutch but English subtitles are available by clicking 'CC')