OFFICINA CORPUSCOLI / Maurizio Montalti -The Growing Lab - Mycelia
The Growing Lab / Mycelia consists of an ongoing, process-based research and exploration actively engaging with investigating and assessing methodologies for the implementation of fungal mycelium as a main agent for the development of novel materials, production methods and of the related deriving applications in the field of design and beyond.
The project tackles a particularly relevant and urgent issue characterising collective communities worldwide: waste generation and environmental impact originated by oil-based plastic compounds, particularly when embedded in disposable applications and/or products.
Furthermore, thanks to the conducted research and the resulting development of flexible materials exclusively consisting of mycelium (i.e. mycelium-leather) the project touches upon issues related to animal exploitation, envisioning possibilities for replacing animal-derived materials (e.g. leather) with fully grown alternatives.
Mycelium is the vegetative body of fungi, consisting of a dense network of filamentous interlocking cells, capable of degrading complex substrates and of assembling loose particles in a solid mass, acting as a living glue.
The Growing Lab looks at the possibility of valuing existing organic waste streams (substrates) by transforming low value products into a vast range of novel matters, each characterised by diverse qualities and suitable for different applications. Within such context, The Growing Lab purposes a radical paradigm shift, offering a different insight into the objects occupying our everyday life and the materials they consist of.
By moving beyond traditional production methods, a new universe of ‘cultivated’ objects starts to emerge.
This allows generating novel and tangible narratives, aiming to actively develop research, solutions and novel perspectives and visions in relation to the constitution of new reliable and varied materials and of the consequently deriving products and systems, contributing to balancing the role of the individual with the ecosystem he’s part of.
The resulting structural and decorative materials are highly interesting for the development of applications and for the production of objects and utilities relating to the fields of design and architecture. By materialising new processes and products characterising our everyday life (i.e. Mycelia collection), The Growing Lab tangibly demonstrates how traditional synthetic, toxic, “cruel” materials, could be replaced with novel, 100% natural, fully compostable myceliumbased matters. Rooted in the described background, The Growing Lab / Mycelia introduces a collection of everyday objects, materialised through growth and aiming to effectively communicate a tangible vision about the way materials will change in the future (i.e. biotechnological revolution) and about the way manufacturing processes and techniques will modify accordingly.
Within this framework, The Growing Lab indicates unprecedented paths regarding the generation of better and economically sustainable production possibilities, transforming current existing paradigms, systems and networks, and suggesting a shift from the traditional concept of industrial production towards an innovative model, rooted in cultivation.
It is the project’s ultimate ambition the one of stimulating the industry’s attention, with the objective of bridging the existing gap between design-driven research projects and the industry itself, for the creation of a real positive impact that new mycelium-based materials and products could bring about.