This is a bookshelf, made entirely of fungus.
This shelf was created as an examination on the uses of mycelium (The “roots” of a mushroom) in mass production. Imitating the flat-pack shipping method of IKEA, each piece of this shelf was grown in an individual mold. Mycelium grows around a substrate of agricultural byproducts, such as corn husk, to naturally create the forms. The pieces were then assembled, which grew together into this final structure. Instead of relying on large-scale wood farms and formaldehyde for our furniture, it is now possible to grow it. Completely biodegradable, the shelf can also be broken apart and placed in your garden when its useful lifespan has ended.
Final project for The Fungus Among Us. Measures 21″ x 21″ x 7″
More detailed explanation coming soon, but here is a visual update of the progress on my fungal book shelf.
My project idea is beginning to take shape, greatly aided by the visit of Sue Van Hook from Ecovative. I was originally planning on exploring form through their packaging replacement, which consists of mycellia grown around a substrate of agriculture byproducts. When Sue passed around some of their structural biocomposites, meant to replace the engineered and formaldehyde-ridden wood products currently on the market, I began to change my train of thought. Earlier, I had bounced around the idea of making a snowboard. Unfortunately, the packaging material would not remotely stand up to the rigors and stress a snowboard must undertake. These biocomposites are much different.
A snowboard is built in layers. Between a top sheet and base material lies a wooden core made up of multiple layers of very thin wood, glued and sandwiched together in a large press. I think these wood layers can be replaced by layers of the Ecovative biocomposite. These layers could also be potentially grown together, removing the need for more toxic glue.
I have contacts in the snowboard industry whom I will be reaching out to to discuss feasibility and potential construction of a board. I would also need time with someone from Ecovative in the biocomposite department, whom I could hopefully be introduced to through Sue. Like everything, I think mushrooms have the potential to greatly alter the snowboard industry, from both a product and sustainability perspective. It’s a project that is very close and very exciting to me.
The Fungus Among Us is a class I am hopefully taking this semester (I’m praying for the waitlist gods to let me in). But I will be doing the work and attending until Marina graciously tells me to get out.
I can’t decide on a project idea, so I’ll present the three I have narrowed myself down to.
1.) Exploring the structure of mycelial networks, especially comparing their natural composition to that of man-made networks, specifically the internet. Research into the network structure, nodes, and information exchange would be realized in a series of 3D prints comparing the two.
2.) Continuing the work of Phil Ross, I would try to build a chair. Outside of experimenting with the structural properties of mushroom material, the motivation is pretty simple: I just got a desk, and I need a chair.
3.) Ecovative has been making blank surfboard cores, so why not a snowboard? I have snowboarded my whole life and am quite familiar with their construction and process. Between a topsheet and p-tex base lies a sandwich of wood, glue, and sometimes carbon fiber. These wood layers could potentially be replaced by thin layers of mushroom material, extremely thin, glued and pressed.