New textile grows from mushrooms
A new organic textile has been developed that is grown from mushroom spores and plant fibres. The material is called MYX, from the mycelium: the vegetable part of a mushroom. MYX is grown during a 3-4 week period, using the oyster mushroom, a common edible fungus.
Danish product designer Jonas Edvard developed the material by focusing on using domestic waste and oyster mycelium as resource for local food production. The oyster mushroom is able to break down dead plant material, taking apart cellulose and lignin with enzymes.
Strictly speaking, the material is a waste product from commercial mushroom production, making it low cost and environmentally friendly. After harvesting the mushrooms the remaining material can be shaped and dried out, which makes it light-weight and flexible with a warm and soft insulating surface.
The material is technically a composite. It is grown on a matrix of strands of plant fibre. By experimenting with different substrates, the designer settled on a fibre mat consisting of hemp and linen fibres in order to standardise the material for further use. The fibres in the MYX textile are leftovers from clothing and rope production. Normally, these leftover fibres are composted or added to building materials. The matter is called ‘waste’ when the material has lost its original function.
In this case, the fibres are woven together with the mushroom spores, creating a strong, 3D network of fibres – a matrix structure that gives the material a textile feel and allows for new applications. The mycelium grows the fibres together, lending durability, strength and flexibility to the resulting material. Chitin, a naturally occurring polymer, is the main ingredient in mushroom cell walls. It is also found in the shells of crustaceans and some insects.
The project is notable for its idealism. By combining functional products with food production, MYX presents an answer to the waste problem in sustainable product design. Manufacture always creates waste, and Jonas Edvard states that it is one of the responsibilities of designers to show how changing design methods can create a new product experience. We very much agree. Compare MYX to this similar, earlier material development.
More information can be found on the designer’s website. Material and images courtesy of Jonas Edvard.