A collaboration between British furniture designer and maker Sebastian Cox and design strategist Ninela Ivanova has resulted in a range of stools and lights ‘grown’ from mushroom mycelium and waste timber.
The Mycelium + Timber collection is formed as the mycelium grows around purpose-built wooden frames, binding the pieces together. Scrap coppiced hazelwood and goat willow (two British species with no economic value) are combined with the mycelium species fomes fomentarius – a pairing identified as the most effective following the duo’s extensive research.
The mycelium is grown in vats, creating a malleable material that can be moulded into shape by the designers before being dried out. Once dried, the furniture is incredibly strong, sturdy and lightweight. A suede-like texture occurs naturally on the surface, adding an interesting and domestic quality, and the pieces are also completely compostable.
This process of biofacture – where biological organisms are used to manufacture new materials – is used across multiple applications, with bacteria, algae and protein fibres providing sustainable material alternatives. By taking advantage of the symbiotic relationship between wood and fungus, this collection explores the potential of mycelium as a material in commercial furniture design.
Mycelium + Timber was presented at the Design Frontiers exhibition at Somerset House in London (September 18-24), which coincided with London Design Festival 2017. Look out for more coverage of this event. For more on natural composites, see New Naturals and Home Ground: Materials.