Made + Mycelium: Bio-fabrication Based Upcycling

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  • 2022

  • Architectural

Designed By:

  • Canhui Chen, John Sadar, Adele Easton
  • Bailey Harper, Dilan Yariz, Fifi Prayogo
  • Harry Tweedale, Hayley Boicovitis, Jack Arceri, Louis Ryan
  • Luka Markulin, Marianne Coetzee, Megan Lambert, Tyson Morgan

Commissioned By:

Seed & Sprout

Designed In:

Australia

Made+Mycelium is a pop-up store designed for eco brand Seed&Sprout, featuring a series of furniture and functional objects grown with mycelium (root structure of fungi). Reflecting the company’s sustainable ethos and emphasis on product life cycles, mycelium objects were designed and grown by upcycling daily household items and discarded objects.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Project design challenges were: a.It coincided with Melbourne's 6th COVID-19 lockdown. A 5-kilometre travelling distance was imposed, and access to the manufacturing space and equipment at the university was restricted. A design and fabrication solution was needed to allow unique objects to be created while requiring minimum resources. b.Mycelium is organic and is grown rather than made, making it a sustainable material choice. However, achieving unique geometries and surface patterns requires the creation of moulds, which can result in high-energy and wasteful machining processes. So how can we maintain low energy, non-wasteful growing processes while creating unique designs?

  • Upcycling was explored by the design team as a creative solution to both the brief and the challenges. The design idea became finding beauty and design opportunities in surrounding everyday objects. The result involved turning to household products or discarded objects ranging from light fittings to pizza pans, bookcases, and kerbside hard rubbish to use as moulds for growing mycelium objects. They were either used as removable moulds for creating geometries and later returned to their original use, or purposefully left in place to be digested by the mycelium, and become part of the final objects.

  • Mycelium is still an experimental material. The successful delivery of this project confirms the feasibility of mycelium bio-composite as an alternative material for commercial projects. It not only widens the material palette for designers but also provides a sustainable and circular option. Furthermore, the design and fabrication process has identified a new line of inquiry for the research of using bio-fabrication as a medium for design upcycling. This is important for the design of temporary spaces where the design, construction methods and material choice should consider product end life and ensure minimal landfill and environmental impact at its disassembling.

  • Some examples of the mycelium objects described above include: -Paper tubes, up-cycled from used tissue or paper towel rolls, became digestible moulds for growing a series of pipe-like geometries, which were used to compose a mycelium Christmas tree. -A rattan basket became a leave-in-place form for a seat/planter. -A bookcase became the perfect reusable form for a modular, stackable, interlocking mycelium plinth and storage system. -Legs from discarded furnishings became recombined into stools with mycelium seats. -An existing pendant luminaire became a reusable form for a mycelium luminaire. Sealed air packaging offered a highly textural and easy-to-remove form for a mycelium stool. -Corrugated cardboard not only became a form for a seat but became readily colonized to become part of the final object, adding textural qualities that were not wholly predictable. -Egg crates became digestible moulds for mycelium planters, which remained part of the final object. -A pizza pan became a reusable mould for a wall sconce, which incorporated leaves into its surface as decoration. These mycelium objects' unique patterns and textures were obtained using mundane household items. Each design expresses the unnoticed beauty in our daily lives unexpectedly whilst reducing waste.