We can grow our own food, sometimes we grow our furniture too, and now Estonia-based Myceen is paving the way for being able to even grow your own lampshades! Unveiled this year at the Dutch Design Week, ‘B-Wise’ is a uniquely grungy-looking lampshade that’s actually made from mycelium – the vegetative part of a mushroom or fungus that often grows underneath the surface while we just notice the mushroom caps that make their way through the ground or tree bark.
The pendant lamp, which measures an impressive 60cm wide, comes with a grungy appearance that is unique to each lamp. To make each lamp, the designers at Myceen take an empty mold and fill it with mycelium along with waste organic material from the timber and agricultural industry including sawdust and straw for the mycelium to feed on. In a matter of just 5 weeks, the mycelium grows into the shape of the mold and is then de-molded and dehydrated to prevent any further growth. With the appearance of leather, the B-Wise lamp’s shade is then ready for further treatment. The rest of the shade is made from a plywood and aluminum frame, complete with a ceramic socket and a lighting cable!
This isn’t the first time mycelium’s been used as a natural alternative to other commercial materials. In fact, Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova worked on similar smaller pendant lamps with a more traditional-looking design that could take anywhere between 4-12 weeks to grow.
With its unique ability to naturally grow into shapes while being relatively strong thanks to its intertwining fibers, mycelium is proving to be an exciting material to work with in the future. Not only is it obviously a great plant-based alternative to leather (given its rubbery, leathery texture), it’s emissions-free, compostable/biodegradable, and has interesting applications outside fashion too, including architecture, with NASA considering using mycelium to make sustainable housing on Mars!