Building houses and making furniture with fungi? It's not the first time we've heard of it, but Dutch designer Eric Klarenbeek throws in 3D printing technology into the equation, producing Mycelium Chair, a seat that has been 3D-printed using a substrate of powdered straw, water and living mycelium, the thread-like, underground fibers of a fungus.
Created in collaboration with researchers at the University of Wageningen, Klarenbeek tells Dezeen that he hopes to explore the possibilities of combining nature with technology to create any product:
This chair is really a metaphor for what could be made with this technique of 3D printing a living organism and then have it grow further. It could be a table, a whole interior or even a house. We could build a house with it.
Debuting this weekend at Eindhoven for Dutch Design Week, the Mycelium Chair was made using the mycelium of yellow oyster mushroom, which likes to grow on straw. A network of the organisms actually grew inside the chair's bioplastic shell, feeding on the straw substrate core and slowly replacing the water content as it matured. Mushrooms even sprouted on the surface, which Klarenbeek left on for "decorative purposes," after drying out the piece to prevent any more growth.
When you dry it out you have the straw kind of glued together by the mushroom. You have this strong, solid material that is really lightweight and durable.
Not only do we have super-green houses that are now 3D-printed, this fascinating development points to potential future where materials are grown, rather than extracted, and where design is sustainably synthesized with nature. More over at Eric Klarenbeek's website.