The use of fungus as building material is already known and several companies are currently playing around with this idea. The result is various shapes with a wide range of application (you name it). Practically fungus mycelium maybe be turned into almost anything from fabric to bricks, furniture, containers, art objects, or building boards. It’s a very practical aproach, involves a simple procedure, and follows an eco-friendly path. Of course there’s still things to look into like what fungus has better binding properties, texture, elasticity, resistance and so on but this is rather a comparison matter that mostly depends on the product to be designed.
I had the chance to meet artist Phil Ross -the creator of the chairs displayed in the picture above. He has a studio in San Francisco and works with mycelium, he is also the cofounder of MycoWorks company focused on mycelium derived products. Some of these products like furniture has been set for a sales price of up to $3000.
The mycelium structure is well compacted, hard as a rock and presents fungus fruitbody primordias (visible on the armchair) that actually would massage your butt if you’ll sit on it. The fungus used is Reishi (Ganoderma sp.) which is a fast substrate colonizer and bind and cover the whole material with a hard crusty chitinous layer of mycelium.
In Phil’s workshop I saw also a bunch of bricks sitting on top of eachother. He also built a wall type structure using such bricks that surely could be used to build even a house; however, this surely would need lots of improvements. He showed us compacted boards made of mycelium but hardly distinguishable from wood which made me think of rigips walls and other materials used in construction.
What’s important to highlight here is that these materials are eco-friendly: they are made of agricultural or wood wastes via fungus power which has an enormous ability to follow any shape you give it and the final result is harder than a brick and also fire resistant, all of which makes a valuable and reliable material with amazing potential for application in many fields of the industry.
Now back to furniture, fungus mycelium could be used for building customizable furniture with a more natural look and a design that’s different than what we actually see on the market today.