We see mushrooms everywhere; it’s a trending Mushroom Universe!
Fungi’s kingdom has around 144,000 of known species of organism. It includes yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms. We use them in several aspects of our life: medicine, consumption, and lately largely in design. Fungi are among the organisms most distributed on Earth, and they have an essential role in the ecosystem and medicine. We are always in contact with fungi. They live in soil or water, or as parasitic or in symbiosis with plants or animals.
Fungi allow fermentation; this property has been discovered around 10, 000 years ago: liquid fermentation, from mead to beer spirits, as well as the solid process of fermentation-bread and cheese. This molecular process has helped humanity to accelerate the path of evolving rapidly. Last but not least, penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1929, changed medicine and helped to increase the human lifespan.
//Today’s use of Mycelium
Mycelium is nothing more than a sort of yeast, but instead of growing in a single cell, it grows into a macro-size structure. As it grows, assembles dense and long connections that fully developed become mushrooms. Instead of letting the structure grow to the classic shape we all know, Mycelium can grow into specific forms. And it does it very very fast, becoming visible within hours. The latter makes this material no only efficient and eco-friendly but also profitable!
We are presenting 8 examples of the use of fungi cross-sectors, from just as simple decoration to the main material to build.
//Fungi and construction
There is ongoing research on new ways to substitute plastic and other materials that are no environmentally friendly. Bio-based materials seem to be the logical answer to a more respectful consumption and to a circular economy. Yet, these bio-materials are relatively new to some industries.
Can mycelium be used in the construction industry? One of the biggest surprised I experienced while visiting the last Dutch Design Week was a pavilion located in the main square of the festival, made with mycelium. Designer and artist Pascal Leboucq, in collaboration with Erik Klarenbeek’s studio Krown Design, created this space made entirely from bio-based materials. Plus the mycelium was treated with a vacuuming technique, to add extra strength.
The exposed panels were grown from mushrooms and coated with a bio-based product developed by the Inca, in Mexico. The mycelium provided the necessary strength, and to make it possible to reuse them, the panels were attached to a timber frame. The interior floor was from a cattail – a type of reed – while the benches made from agricultural waste, such as fallen trees.
The stains and relief of the mycelium are beautiful, it forms a kind of skin instead of an even wall.”- Pascal Leboucq
Photography: Courtesy by Oscar Vinck.
Mogu are eco-friendly acoustic panels. They are made from soft, flamelike mycelium, and upcycled textiles. Their design is the answer to the challenging times we are undergoing when it comes to sustainability.
The unique technology used to create Mogu acoustic panels brings together functionality, beauty while respecting the environment, establishing a new relationship with nature.
Photography: Courtesy of Mogu.
London designer Nir Meiri places paper waste inside a previously designed mold, mycelium spores are then inserted and left to grow under carefully controlled conditions of temperature and humidity. After two weeks, the paper waste has been consumed by the fungus and the excess growing fungus is removed. When the mycelium is dry, the leftover product is pressed to form a flat object that is used as a lampshade.
Mushrooms and fungi are truly wondrous organisms with significant untapped potential. Mycelium consumes organic and synthetic waste to grow into desired shapes and different types of waste alter its properties.”- Nir Meiri
//Art + Product Design
Lizan Freijsen has been fascinated by fungi since leakages and stains begun to appear in her garden shed. She sees beauty in the mold and in the way it develops. So after studying them, she started taking pictures and transforms them into wallpapers to give to new houses a sense of “lived.”
The artist is challenging what we perceived as ugly, turning it into something beautiful and valuable.
Liza started to transform fungi and mold stains into textiles, focusing on the beauty of something mostly unwanted. The blankets and carpets are unique, as unique are the stains. They are also hand-made. To develop her technique Freijsen collaborated for over seven years with Hester Onijs & Karen Zeedijk of the Textile Museum in Tilburg. (2009-2016).
For the artist, the process of embracing imperfections is a way to respond to the excess of control we have in our society. According to her, the process of witnessing a delicate and slow process shows us the presence of “urban nature,” connecting time with a feeling of home.
Photography: Courtesy by Lizan Freijsen.
Floral designer, Yasmine Nemei, noticed the beauty and fragility of fungi; the same beauty and fragility flowers have. It was, therefore, an almost natural process to integrate mushrooms in her flower bouquets. These mushrooms have incredible shades, colors, and unique textures, but the added value that grows fast. These compositions seem to come out of a fairytale, where reality meets fantasy, resulting in a mystical feeling.
Easy to grow in a controlled environment, and as beautiful as flowers, these mushroom could be the “bouquets of the future,” if flowers become a commodity. A small arrangement could be a jewel, a delicate broach, or a decoration on a vintage hat; you name it!
Photography: Courtesy of Yasmine Nemei.
Many mushrooms are a superfood for skin and hair. Therefore they are finding more space in the booming beauty industry. Youth to the People, sold by Sephora, uses fermented reishi in their ingredients. It is a red-varnished mushroom, with a kidney-shaped cap. When fresh, it is soft, cork-like, and flat. Chinese traditional medicine uses reishi, also known as Ganoderma lucidum and lingzh. Youth to the People applies this superfood because it works to hydrate, detoxify, and combat premature signs of aging.
Photography: Courtesy of Youth of the People.
Origins created a whole line dedicated to the superpower of the reishi mushroom. They believe inflammation is the root cause of visible skin concerns as well as irritation. According to their studies, fungi have the power to fight irritation. They created mega-mushroom formulas that use the properties that reishi has. Which are several: to calm, soothe, and boost skin’s resilience. According to Origins, reishi mushroom has been considered as a “life’s elixir.”
Photography: Courtesy of Origins.
//Food and supplements
Fungi have been part of our diet for thousands of years. Ötzi, the mummy from 5300 years ago, had in his equipment two pieces of birch polypore (birch fungus), as well as in his intestine. The assumption is that Ötzi used it as part of his diet for therapeutic purposes. The fungus is said to have antibiotic and styptic properties.
Today, as we advance our discovery in the benefits of mushrooms, we integrate them more in our diet.
Stanford Inn, in Mendocino (California), not only is the first hotel with vegan options only but also offers “Medicinal Mushroom Breakfast” information regarding the medicinal use of mushrooms and essential aspects of preparation and enjoying (next one is the 3rd of March 2020, if you are around).
Photography: Courtesy by South Tyrol Museum of Archeology.
There are several examples on the Internet of how to add the power of mushrooms in our daily diet. Blog writer Gwynnie, explains in “Shalom Homestead” how to prepare Medicinal Mushroom Granola, as snack or breakfast. The recipe uses two types of mushroom powder. Chaga mushrooms are incredibly high in antioxidants, but also great immune-strengthening food. The formula also has reishi mushrooms, lessening the effects of allergies. Also, these mushrooms help to detox the body.
Photography: Courtesy by Shalom Homestead.
It’s Trending: The Mushroom Universe is the last cross-industry research about what we see is becoming mainstream. It is lengthy research at times, but always rewarding. You can read more articles of this series here or get access to this one as a beautiful trend report below.
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