Functional fungus: Designers tinker with mycelium to produce furniture, paneling

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In the United Kingdom, the Financial Times has profiled several designers who are using mycelium as raw material.

Sebastian Cox of Kent got the idea to use fungal mycelium to produce furniture after seeing it grow in the wild. Together with biomaterials designer Ninela Ivanova, Cox began using Fomes fomentarius. He coaxes it to grow on woodchips and uses molds to gain the proper shape.

Meanwhile, Adam Davies’ company Tŷ Syml’s makes lamp shades from fungi. The company sells about 40 a month to eco-friendly interior designers and eateries. Davies uses hemp as a base for fungal growth. “After five days it has a really nice skin on the outside and it’s all contained,” he tells the publication.  Davies is also trialing the use of spent grain from a nearby brewer to grow his fungi. The material would otherwise be landfilled.

Cox adds that he would like to develop packaging material, and Davies is currently working on large acoustic paneling made from mycelium.