Sustainable modular acoustic panels are made from a unique blend of up-cycled textile and mycelium

Foresta System is a modular acoustic panel design made from a unique blend of fungal mycelium and upcycled textile material.

Mycelium is like nature’s hidden superpower. Mushrooms can be used for anything from cooking, health and wellness, and even construction. Packed with industrial-level strength, mycelium is a natural fungi material that has recently been used as building materials for various construction projects.

Designer: Mogu

From home building to furnishing needs, mycelium provides an organic, yet durable construction material. Now used to create interior acoustic panels, the Foresta System designed by Italy-based Mogu takes a unique blend of mycelium and upcycled textile materials to create modular acoustic panels.

Constructed from a mix of mycelium panels, wood branches, and nodes, the timber frame that supports the different parts of Foresta can be mechanically fixed to the wall or vertical surface. Each node also carries integrated magnets that allow the acoustic panels to be mounted on the timber frame, allowing for easy removal and assembly.

The first of its kind to integrate mycelium into its build, Foresta has been granted the winning prize of the 2022 German Design Awards for its eco-conscious and innovative design. 100% circular by design, none of Mogu Acoustic products are made with synthetic material, nodding towards the company’s “extremely virtuous manufacturing cycle,” as the German Design jury suggests.

Made entirely from fungal mycelium and upcycled textile materials, Foresta is a collection of modular acoustic panels used to minimize the acoustic levels of noisy spaces like restaurants, offices, and retail businesses. Using the latest technologies in wood processing such as product parametric modeling, robotized production lines, and advanced manufacturing, Mogu was able to combine the refined aesthetics of wooden design with the cutting-edge nature of fungal mycelium to produce a truly innovative product.

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You won’t believe that these psychedelic art pieces are actually close-ups of molds and fungi!

No, this isn’t an alien planet. It’s a psychedelic work of art by Dasha Plesen using paints, pigments, foodstuff, and bacterial/fungal cultures from everyday life.

I don’t know about you, but when I see mold growing on something, my knee-jerk reaction is to throw it away. Daria Fedorova, on the other hand, busts out her camera, mounts a macro lens, and gets to work! Fedorova’s psychedelic artworks are more of a collaboration than anything else. She uses paints, yeasts, foodstuff, and biofilms to compose her art pieces, introduces microscopic fungal and bacterial cultures to the mix, and then lets nature take over as the molds grow on top of her abstract pieces of art, giving it a new appearance altogether.

Fedorova (who goes by her online moniker Dasha Plesen) hopes to redefine what it means to “create” art, and to explore how much of a role she plays in the creation. A lot of the artwork’s process is unpredictable, as Fedorova just allows the cultures to incubate over a period of 3-4 weeks, growing on top of the canvas she creates. The Russia-based artist spent 7 years researching microcultures and learning how to develop and control them. Most of her artwork occurs in controlled environments inside Petri dishes, and her microculture samples come from a variety of places, including “air, surroundings, body, and objects”, according to the artist.

It’s worth noting that no two molds/cultures in her artpieces are the same. They come from different locations and samples, and are the result of multiple natural bacterial and fungal colonies naturally propagating. Fedorova’s experimented with bodily fluids (like sweat, saliva, mucus, and milk) and even decorated her art with sprinkles and granules of sugar, adding pops of color to her “disgusting” art. The results are undeniably fabulous, that is, if you can somehow get yourself to look beyond the fact that those microbiotic cultures are incredibly unhealthy and potentially dangerous if exposed to humans (Fedorova does make it a point to safely dispose of them once she’s done). However, they make for great prints (Fedorova actually sells posters and tee-shirts)… and if you’re into NFTs, you can get your hands on some “CryptoFungi” too!

Designer: Daria Fedorova (Dasha Plesen)

A Mycelium grill design, made from edible fungus can be biodegraded and fertilizes the earth!

MYC is a sustainable disposable grill made from mycelium, a biodegradable and fireproof vegetative part of a fungus that’s safe and edible for humans.

With the end of summer already closing in on us, camping is all the more popular and so are barbeques, which means the garbage is getting left behind once the grill’s off. Disposable grills allow barbeques to take place outdoors without the hassle of lugging around a portable one, but the familiar aluminum grills often get left behind at the site once the BBQ is finished. Industrial design student Stephanie Singer created MYC, a sustainable disposable grill made from fungal mycelium as an alternative to the aluminum disposable grill.

In researching fireproof materials to build her grill, Singer found mycelium, a fireproof, vegetative part of a fungus that’s safe and edible for humans. Mycelium hosts an array of properties that make it the ideal choice with which to build a disposable grill. Inexpensive and very easy to grow, mycelium is an accessible, sustainable alternative building material that’s water repellent, naturally insulating, and entirely biodegradable. After cultivating her own lot of mycelium, Singer constructed prototypes of MYC and envisioned the disposable grill lining the shelves of convenience stores and gas stations to bring the choice of sustainable disposable grills to the masses. Following the use of an MYC grill, instead of searching for the nearest garbage can, grillers can simply cut up and leave MYC at the campsite to biodegrade and fertilize the earth.

While mycelium constructs the chunk of MYC, Singer sought out additional accessories to make the grill operable. Discussing the various biodegradable materials used to build MYC, Singer says, “MYC consists of a bowl made of fungal mycelium, a grate made of bamboo sticks, and dried corn cobs as fuel. The product is available as a compact grill kit and is protected by a minimalist cardboard cover. Dried corn cobs are used as fuel, as these are a waste product in the field in EU agriculture when growing fodder corn. As soon as the embers are ready, the bamboo sticks can easily be placed in the bulges on the side to create a grate.”

Designer: Stephanie Singer

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The materials for this pair of ‘bio-headphones’ are entirely grown in a laboratory

You’re bound to feel slightly bewildered when you hear the term “bio-headphones”. I was too, initially, when I read about the Korvaa. You see, the Korvaa isn’t your regular pair of cans. It isn’t made from plastic, memory foam, metal, leather, or wood (like some premium headphones). Korvaa, on the other hand, uses a more unusual genre of materials including stuff like fungi, bacteria (the good kind), and biosynthetic spider silk.

Created as an “experimental science collaboration that explores the design and functionalities of novel, bio-based, microbially grown materials”, Korvaa uses a fungal mycelia for the foam cups, fungi film as a leather substitute to cover the foam-cups, and microbial bio plastics for the outer body. Designed to explore the possibility of using new, bio-based materials to create regular consumer products, the headphones were perhaps the perfect playground. They have size, weight, and ergonomic constraints… plus they require parts that are both hard as well as soft. Korvaa required multiple iterations to arrive at the materials that were finally used in its construction. Some parts needed to be cultured and grown in a mold, while others needed to be freeze-dried to be worked with. At the end, Korvaa’s build was achieved using a combination of 3D printed yeast, while the foam in the cups was formulated using a combination of a foaming fungus-based protein known as Hydrophobin and a stabilizing plant cellulose. The leather-esque cover on the foam cups is, in fact, fungal mycelium, which lends a rich brown color to the off-white pair of headphones, and right on the inside, covering the audio driver, is a mesh-cloth created by spinning biosynthetic spider silk into a fabric.

An incredibly unusual experiment to begin with, Korvaa hopes to be a testing-zone for more bio-materials in the future. While this isn’t a pair of headphones you could pick up from your local electronics store (or laboratory, perhaps?!), it’s a great initiative to work towards developing and democratizing materials that contribute to a much more circular economy!

Designers: Aivan and Synbio

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