Dutch designer Eric Klarenbeek has 3D-printed a chair using living fungus, which then grows inside the structure to give it strength.
The chair is the result of a collaboration between Klarenbeek and scientists at the University of Wageningen to develop a new way of printing with living organisms. “Our main purpose was to bring together the machine and nature to create a new material that could be used to make any product,” says Klarenbeek.
The result is a new material that, Klarenbeek believes, could be used to make almost anything in future. “It could be a table, a whole interior or even a house,” he said. “We could build a house with it.”
The Mycelium Chair was printed using a mixture of water, powdered straw and mycelium, which is the thread-like part of a fungus that lives underground. The mycelium grew within the structure, replacing the water and creating a solid but extremely lightweight material. Mushrooms began sprouting on the surface, at which point Klarenbeek dried out the structure to prevent further growth.
“When you dry it out you have the straw kind of glued together by the mushroom,” Klarenbeek said. “You have this strong, solid material that is really lightweight and durable.” A thin layer of printed bioplastic covers the structure of the chair to contain the growing fungus. Straw was used as a substrate since the fungus used in the project – the yellow oyster mushroom – likes to grow on straw.