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Man uses mushrooms to make furniture
Inspired by mushrooms, Sebastian Cox is making furniture from fungus. Eighteen months after first finding two sticks held together by fungus, Cox stood holding a fully formed, fungus-made lamp and stool in his workshop in southeast London.
A furniture maker by profession, Cox has focused on making wooden goods with minimal environmental impact and as small a carbon footprint as possible. When he saw how strongly fungus could hold together two wooden branches, he immediately wanted to see how he could incorporate this material into his own furniture-making practices.
Cox reached out to the British Mycological Society, who connected him with Minela Ivanova, a researcher and designer who studies how unconventional materials can be used in functional items like textiles or furniture.
"We started experimenting with which fungi would work best with what type of wood," Ivanova said.
They found that the fungal strain Fomes fomentarius mixed well with wood chips that had no commercial value and would have otherwise gone to waste.
From there, they were able to create "myceliated wood," a compound that forms when mycelium, the fiber-like parts of a fungus, mix together with wood chips. Over time this spreads into a pliable compound that Cox and Ivanova let grow in molds.
Ivanova said low production costs and minimal labour (the furniture literally grows itself) mean it's possible for the company to eventually scale up. They just need to warm consumers to the idea of having a fungus inside the home.
Cox hopes to next research how to make his products waterproof. He believes that if he can achieve this, he can create nearly any moldable product that would normally be created from plastic.
Publication date: 9/25/2017
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