Grown furniture – ‘MYCELIUM+TIMBER’

Furniture Designer Sebastian Cox and Design Strategist Ninela Ivanova have collaborated on pieces of grown furniture, made using mycelium (fungus) and wood.

MYCELIUM+TIMBER comprises a series of stools and lights, made using freshly cut wood waste from Sebastian’s woodland which has been myceliated with the species Fomes fomentarius. Each piece is created by the mycelium as it grows and binds the green wood waste together around purpose-made frames to form lightweight, incredibly strong and completely compostable pieces of design. These pieces will be on display as part of a ‘work in progress’ installation which reveals the research and experimentation the pair have undertaken.

This remarkable material relationship between wood and fungus is a naturally occurring one which spans the ages.

Through extensive research and experimentation, Sebastian and Ninela have identified the mycelium species, Fomes fomentarius, works most effectively with coppiced hazel and goat willow; two species of British wood currently without an economically valuable use and often considered as waste. They have taken this perfect pairing and intelligently applied the symbiotic relationship to contemporary furniture.

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Sebastian says: “We have a near obsession with trying to find new uses for wood. I’ve always felt dissatisfied with combining this incredibly sustainable material with even the greenest of bioplastics. Mycelium offers us the opportunity to create products that not only continue but advance our ethos of sustainability and test our ability as a studio to design for new methods of manufacture.”

Ninela adds: “Mycelium has been the focus of my design research and practice for the last seven years. It is a novel and versatile material. It offers new and sustainable processes for design fabrication but it also asks us to carefully consider and craft the aesthetic properties and perception of these new design forms. What truly excites me about this project is the holistic thinking and shared incentives behind combining mycelium and wood to create simply beautiful pieces of furniture and domestic objects that push the boundaries of design thinking around future biobased materials and processes.”

Ninela and Sebastian’s shared vision of made objects, created in a rational way with the most appropriate materials has brought them together. Through their combined expertise in mycelium, wood and design, they have been working on this collection to change our material culture and positively impact the way people choose the objects in their home.

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This process of using biological organisms to manufacture new materials is known as biofacture. Although it has been used to ‘grow’ micro-organisms such as bacteria, algae, cellulose and protein fibres as an alternative to traditional materials like cotton and plastics, its extraordinary potential hasn’t yet been applied to commercial furniture design.

MYCELIUM+TIMBER uses this process to create functional and domestic design, outside of experimental gallery pieces.

MYCELIUM+TIMBER offers an insight into the surprising marriage of two materials to both craft and produce domestic objects.

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sebastiancox.co.uk

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