This title alone will make most people scrunch up their faces in disgust, but don’t worry- it’s not contagious. Designers in London have grown several pieces of fungus furniture, all lightweight, strong and compostable. Taking the thread-like, vegetative part of fungus called the mycelium, they mix it with wood chips. Over time, that spreads throughout the wood to form what is referred to as myceliated wood. Once that’s complete, they tear it apart and put it into a mold where the fungus simply grows to fill the available space. When it’s finished, they simply dry the piece and it halts its growth there.
During the development stages they conducted experiments to figure out which strains of fungi would work react best with particular woods. Eventually, they perfected the process by concluding that the fungal strain Fomes Fomentarius reacted best with Hazel and Goat Willow wood.
According to National Geographic, a furniture maker who specializes in these designs, Sebastian Cox, had the idea as he was walking through the woods and saw two branches of hazel trees stuck together. He noted how strongly the fungus was holding the two branches. Cox was always looking for designs that would have as little environmental impact as possible, so he was immediately inspired to attempt a design with the material.
Not only is it environmentally beneficial, but the production costs are low. The job requires minimal labor because the furniture grows itself. The only real struggle is getting eradicating the stigma surrounding fungus and making it appealing to consumers. Cox and his partner, Milena Ivanova, hope the furniture will soon spread.