Can you imagine a future where everything in your daily life is made out of fungi..? It’s actually not such a stretch idea: this bioartist is showing the world all these microorganisms can do. 

Maurizio Montalti is an artist that uses fungi to build his own furniture and homeware. In 2010, he founded Officina Corpuscoli in Amsterdam to research new materials using mycelia, a branched network of cells that fungi use to feed.

By studying the properties of fungi and the cellulose it feeds from, the artist is exploring how to create materials tailored for different applications. His vision is that in the future plastics will be substituted by sustainable biomaterials, and design is a key element of the process.

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His latest work is currently in the exhibition Fungal Futures in Utrecht, which features commonplace objects like bowls and chairs.

Figure 1. To be honest, I’d never have guessed these are made of fungi

Maurizio has also developed a custom material that can be used to cover plastic objects and help fungi colonize and degrade them. With this project, the artist wanted to show that it’s possible to turn inanimate, synthetic materials into living objects that can go back into a sustainable cycle.

Maurizio Montalti

Figure 2. Plastic chairs are now recyclable!

This one’s a bit creepy, but Maurizio’s Bodies of Change uses a similar approach to propose new burial practices that don’t harm the environment. This idea is actually nothing new: there’s already a Korean company that sells a burial suit optimized for a sustainable afterlife.

The artist has also developed a custom 3D-printing software that can be used to design complex patterns in petri dishes that change over time as the fungi grow. The technique can also be used to print custom bio-jewelry.

officina-corpuscoli-biologic-timelapse-overlap-frames-1024x716

Figure 3. Fungal 3D-printing

The artist’s materials seem to be working so well that he has founded the start-up Mycoplast, in Italy, to commercialize products made with renewable fungi materials. You can buy anything from flower pots to thermal insulation. What do you think, would you welcome fungi in your home?


All images courtesy of the artist

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