This homegrown project brings new meaning to the term magic mushrooms
Ecovative, a leader in the budding mycelium materials field, is offering a DIY kit that "grows" a lampshade.
Because I'm a fun guy, I mush ruminate publicly about this much-hyphaed new project using mycelium as a medium, after which we must ascus ourselves if indeed we really lichen it enough to spore a kit from the makers, who've got some mad gills at creating mycological materials.
OK, now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's talk mushrooms, or more precisely, fungi. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain fungi, and are often the only physical evidence we see of the presence of this diverse kingdom in our daily lives. However, it's what we don't see that actually does the actual magic that mushrooms get the credit for, by acting as the principle agent of decomposition on Earth, which is a major driver of ecological systems. Fungi have interactions with all sorts of other, if not all, known lifeforms, with some being beneficial to both, such as the mycorrhizal relationship with plants, and others, like the mycotoxins produced by certain fungi in crops, or by molds in buildings, which are hazardous to us.
Even though fungi are so pivotal for everything from agriculture to fermentation to medicine, it might be the last real frontier in earth science, as relatively little is known about this important kingdom when compared with other branches of science. Alright, I'm getting off my mycological soapbox now, but if you're intrigued and want to know more, check out the book Radical Mycology.
The latest foray into mycology for consumer materials comes from a leading light in the mycelium field, Ecovative, and this time it's a grow-your-own kit that demonstrates the potential for fungi to 'manufacture' products right in front of our eyes.
The GROW project is a collaboration between Ecovative and "bio-designer" Danielle Trofe, the mind behind the MushLume Lighting collection (evidently puns come naturally to fungophiles), made from the company's "Mushroom® Materials." She was also the first to use the company's materials in her own work, and with this project, is enabling more people to "become the biodesigner."
The GROW project is offering backers either a table lamp or pendant lamp kit, or pre-grown lamps, or just a starter kit of the material itself, which can be used as part of a DIY project. The material itself is a dried substrate pre-inoculated with an edible variety of fungus, which is then rehydrated by the end user and shaped into a mold, where the strands of hyphae grow and bind together into the lampshade over the course of about 10 days. The end result is a completely biodegradable, compostable, and non-toxic material made up of a mind-bending length of mycelium - an estimated 8 miles of hyphae in each cubic inch. That's some serious natural engineering in action, right there.
For the GROW campaign, backers can opt for the materials-only option for just $20, or a grow-it-yourself lamp kit for $65, with additional rewards for higher levels of support, such as a set of pre-grown lamps, and the estimated shipping time on those varies between this fall and this winter depending on the reward. More info is available at Ecovative.